EMMS

(she/her)

12th June 2018:

Lee and Ryan meet with Emms (she/her), a trans woman who works in IT. Emms talks about her wide range of interests, working and accessing community in Singapore in the mid-2000s, the importance of quality healthcare, the Filipino trans community, and navigating being trans in the workplace. She also emphasizes the importance of affirming all trans experiences, and the necessity of listening and learning.

TRANSCRIPT

 

L: Ok, so we’re here today on the 12th of June, and we’re here with Emms.

 

E: Hi, I’m Emms. Um, I’m a trans woman, so you can refer to me pronouns-wise, she/her. Yeah.

 

R: Ok, so we’ll start with a pretty broad question: what kind of things do you like to do?

 

E: Um, quite varied. Normal things, such as hanging out with friends, and by myself I watch movies, I read books, learn new things. Recently, I’ve been trying to learn something new that’s related to my field. I’m in IT, but I’ve been contemplating of moving to a different area in IT, which is in user experience design. So then, doing that. Aside from that, just different things like if I find something that I fancy learning, then I do that thing. For example, there was a phase where I kind of kept on researching about perfumes. And then thinking about doing some perfumery, of some sort. There was also some time when I was interested in learning ukulele. So it depends. So whatever I fancy, and when I get bored, I start fiddling with something else.

 

Um, but I always, I think on a day to day basis, like its just always hanging out with friends, socializing. That’s the main part. And travel whenever I can.

 

L: I really feel you on trying the different things out – different things that I interest you. My research topic for my PhD is around user experience, so I’m really interested in it –

 

L: What kind of movies and books do you like?

 

Depends on my mood. At the moment, I’m actually reading Game of Thrones. I’m a Game of Thrones fan. So I, rather than waiting for the coming series, I think its Season 8, if I’m not wrong, by next year – so I thought I might as well start reading it again. Not again, but start reading – because I’ve only watched the series. But my reading interest is not limited to fiction. I more gravitate, actually, towards inspirational ones. Like Paulo Coelho books – like a bit fiction, but inspirational as well – something that touches the heart. In terms of movies, its varied as well. Last night I watched A Wrinkle in Time, like actually a kid’s movie – I realized halfway through! Um, so, but the other day I watched Love Simon, which was very very good. It was a coming out story. And sometimes I watch thrillers. I like watching horror with friends, but its pretty varied. Like sometimes it can be documentary, it depends on my mood. But normally, if I’m just stressed out, I want something where I don’t think and just watch something and then just laugh. Yeah.

 

R: Tune out, yeah. Would you like to tell us a bit more about what you do for your job?

 

E: So I’ve been in IT for awhile. I haven’t said: I’m 40 years old. I’ve been working in IT since 1998 in the Philippines. So I started as a software developer and then moved on to testing, and then project management. And then now I’m back in testing. So in my current company, so I’m a (key?) analyst there. I kind of managing in a team, not officially on title, but I’m still doing some testing. But in a way, I’m really leading a team, a team of testers.

 

L: Do you have any pets?

 

E: I used to. But right now, no. But its because, I think its because of my lifestyle. I used to have a dog back home in the Philippines, but the thing is, in the Philippines we have our nannies there. So we have dogs, we play with it, but then somebody else takes care of it. So its not really responsible. I became responsible with pets when I moved to Singapore. So prior to coming to Australia, I lived in Singapore for about 6 years. And then I had 3 fishtanks, or 4, at most, at one time. So I had fishes as pets. And the special ones would have names. I’ve been contemplating on having another one here, but I realize it might not be good for my lifestyle, because I just, sometimes I travel. I did consider getting a dog as well, but not at this stage. Yeah.

 

L: Where do you like traveling to?

 

E: I’ve been to 4 or 5 continents? Yeah, so when I was in Singapore its easy to travel from there. And then, because its like a, traveling hub. So I’ve been to Asia, Europe, North America, and then, 2013 I went to Morocco, which is part of Africa. And since I moved to Australia, it’s a bit, it’s not that easy because its farther. And its more expensive. So it’s like, previously my salary, I was able to travel just like in neighboring countries. But here, since its more expensive, and its farther, so y’know, it’s a bit more difficult. But when I do travel, its mostly back to the US, where my immediate family is. Although I’m from the Philippines, I still go to the Philippines, but my immediate family lives in the US. So I tend to travel there almost once a year – at least once in 2 years.

 

L: And what led you to settle in Australia?

 

E: Um, good question. Well I was living in Singapore, I think I went to the UK in 2009. Because I wanted to just travel. Like, it was the height of the global financial crisis, so I thought that this is my opportunity to take a rest. Like, I took about 5 months without rest, and went travelling – I went to the UK and the US. I went to the UK and I was so inspired, like I wanted to move there. When I got back to Singapore, I started looking for a job, and then at the same time I was also considering – I don’t want to live in Singapore for the rest of my life, because although Singapore is nice, good, convenient – for me its’ not conducive to settle down, get old in. Especially for a trans like me. Because of the healthcare is top notch, but its like, gonna be taken out of your fund. It’s not really like a free healthcare. But difficulty was, I wouldn’t be able to move to the UK. So I started looking – where can I move where there’s good healthcare?

 

L: Yeah it’s such an issue –

 

E: It is! I was thinking, if I’m going to grow old by myself, its like, I need to go somewhere where the government will take care of me [laughs]. Singapore will not do that. There’s money on my Medicare fund, because the way it works there. When you’re young its good because the tax is very low, it’s about 3-5%. But because that’s very low, but there’s a part of your salary that can go into the fund, aside from the taxes – it come out from your salary. And that medicare fund is where the government will take out if you get hospitalized, so you’ll have to have a lot of funds in there. But here in Australia I found out that as long as you’re tax paying, but of course the tax here is very high, then you have access to good medical. So I came here 2010, I wanted to check out Australia, would this be a good place for me? Went to Sydney, went to Melbourne. And then I said, yeah I think Melbourne’s good. So when I got back, within a month I started applying, I started preparing my documents so that I could migrate here. And then, I think it was a year later, when I got my approval. So that was the driving force. I couldn’t see myself settling down in Singapore – it was good, but not for me in the long term.

 

L: That is so proactive and motivational, where in the world, like… [laughs]

 

E: [laughs] Yeah, I wanted the UK though! It’s just beautiful there, and the accent was nice [laughs]. So yeah, but I couldn’t. It’s difficult to move. So I think my option was Australia and Canada, but I knew Canada would be extremely cold. So yeah that’s why I picked Australia.

 

R: So did you know anyone in Australia or in Melbourne before you moved?

 

E: In Sydney I knew some, a friend of a friend, and I found out later that my high school teacher was also there. Who was helpful when I moved. And then in Melbourne, I had one friend, already living here, but I wasn’t really actively in contact with her. It was more of like, I was just brave enough to just – even if I didn’t know anyone – I would come here.

 

L: Were you nervous?

 

E: Not so much, because I was older, I already went through a phase of being independent. And going to other places. I’m from Cebu, it’s the second largest, most metropolis in the Philippines. And so I’d been there all my life until I was I think 23. And then I moved to Manilla. So that was the first time that I was independent. And then I moved to Singapore, although in Singapore I had friends. So coming here was fine, and I was excited.

 

R: Well you’ve been to so many places, but is there a place that is particularly meaningful to you?

 

E: Well let me exclude the ones that I’ve lived in. Because they will always be meaningful, because that’s where I’ve spent most of my life. Especially the Philippines. I would also exclude the US, because that’s where my family is. So I’ve been to Japan quite a few times, and then I spend two months in Bulgaria, and then the UK. Those 3, I’d say, would stand out. Oh and New Zealand. Queenstown. It’s just paradise. So, actually every place I’ve been to is really meaningful. I mean like, there’s a lot of experience there. Even the bad ones, like I’ve been to Hong Kong, and every time I’ve been there I hate it. I’ve been there like 3 times [laughs]

 

R: You keep giving it a second chance, a third chance –

 

E: Yeah exactly! But if one place, yeah I’d say the UK. The UK was beautiful and my experience that time when I went there was a lot of fun.

 

L: I find that really inspiring – I’ve been here and here and here

 

R: Do you remember an early memory, do you remember the time from which you started to think about your gender or gender more generally?

 

E: Yeah, um, if I look back, I knew I was different during my younger years. And its just like, it’s a bit hazy for me, and sometimes I think, am I trying to block out something from my past? Is that why I can’t remember exactly those moments that I started thinking about my gender? But its more like, just bits and pieces, like for example trying to fit in, I’d vocalize that I like a girl – something like that. I kind of associated at that time sexual preference as, you know, gender. And then, in looking back, I thought about the partners that I’ve been with – for example I had a crush on a guy and then how I’d be, even in bed [laughs] when I’m with a guy. So its like, when I’m called those things, I can say that, yeah, I was a woman. Even like, some instances where I never really remember when I looked at myself in the mirror naked. Or like, at a younger age. I only started to kind of explore that when I was a bit older, when I was in Singapore in fact. And then when I was in Singapore, I started to experiment in some way. I had some occasions where – I moved there, but I had short hair. I would, when I go to work or apply for work, I would always identify – I identified myself as a man. Because that’s how I could, that’s what I knew. And then I went to work as that, and then I kind of, I called myself as gay. It was the start. But when I was in Singapore I started kind of dressing up, and then it was not, it was not like a fetish thing? Yeah. So but, I was dressing up because I was also trying to attract men. So it was kind of, like a discovery of some sort. And then just trying to piece things together – and the funny thing in the Philippine culture is, there’s a lot of trans people. But we all called ourselves under the umbrella of gays. Because we never knew trans. During our times especially. And then I had, I kept having this memory – why I was never comfortable being called gay, or going into a gay bar. Because, I don’t know, like if I go to a gay bar, and then a gay guy would look at me, I would feel uncomfortable. But if I go to like a straight bar, and then a guy would, I’d get excited. Then later on, as I kept thinking about it, its just more like, how the people in the gay bar viewed me. And I felt that they viewed me as a gay person. So its not like as a woman. So that’s my realization, and then I only, when I was in Singapore I started dressing up, and I started reaching out to a community. So there was like a trans and crossdressers community. And that’s when I started to realize who I am.

 

R: Can you tell us a bit more about the community that you found in Singapore?

 

E: Yeah, it was kind of a combination of a fetish community, because there were like crossdressers, and at the same time trans. But in Singapore, Singapore was very conservative, it’s a very conservative country. They still have this penal code that’s part of their law, which is, y’know, to punish all the homosexual – like specifically men who sleep with other men. It’s still, I’m not sure if its already been taken out, but although its been there, but when I moved there, its not really in practice. But it can be used, because its in the law. So there’s this community, I think I just did some google search or something, that I found, a mailing list, and then I just subscribed the mailing list. I sent them an email and they had like a gathering. But the administrator of that were actually more of crossdressers. They’re more like, they call themselves as ‘transbians’. Like they cross-dress, and they’re attracted to women and transsexuals and fellow crossdressers. So it started as like a kind of, I think it was more of a fetishist community. But there were trans in there. I think there were about 4, and then I came in. It was a good place for me to just hang out. Meet people who were, you know, like in a way, in hiding – because we’re not really, we would only go out together and including the crossdressers, dress up. When there’s a lot of us. But it’s not like individual. But I think over time it has changed, since I left.

 

R: So did you start, I guess – I dunno if you use this language – but a kind of social transition or something? Did you start that in Singapore?

 

E: I’d say so. Although in the Philippines, my friends and I were like, my circle, were more of really trans. We had, even like, when I was in high school, that was way back between 1990-1994, the school I was in had both girls and boys. But boys had separate classrooms than girls. So I was in an all-boys classroom. And of course our uniforms were all boys. But we bonded together and all those gays, um I think half were really gays, and half were actually trans. But at that time, we were all just, we were all gays. Even after school, and those friends whom I was in touch with, over time and then live in this moment, we all identify ourselves as trans women. So we socially, socially we were in that group. But in Singapore, that helped me actually put kind of a really clear definition, of who I am. Like, ah, there’s really transgender here. And we are different than gay people. Because our thinking at that time, its just like overlapping. Yeah. And then, I only started to fully transition here in Australia. Because back in Singapore, I was still kind of dressing up when I’d go out with those group. Or when I was with my friends, y’know weekends even. Like, starting to dress up, started to grow my hair. But when I’d go to work, although I would let my hair down, I’d still identified myself as male to my colleagues. I was, even at one time, when I spoke with one officemate, I told her that I’m gay. That I was gay. But after that social being part of that social group, then I started to understand more. Started to have some way a label of who I am. And then when I went to – came here, 2013, that’s when I started to really go to doctor, ask for prescription for hormone therapy, and that’s when I fully transitioned.

 

R: How do you feel about the trans community in Melbourne?

 

E: I would say there’s actually quite a few. Well, first and foremost, like when I moved here there was already a big trans Filipino trans community. Because its just like, for us Filipinos, when you meet one, you get introduced – I got introduced to different trans, and then there’s gonna be some gatherings, and there are some events. Especially like those Filipino fiesta events where trans get invited to perform. And then there’s a pageant in 2013, which I also joined. So that’s when I also, y’know, got involved. And knew some trans. But these are not kind of, this is just community that’s not really being organized. It’s just like a meetup thing. But I know there are groups that, for example, I’ve been to one – which I’ve forgotten the name of – which was about the youth trans, I went to one of their talks. Yeah, in summary, I’m quite aware, but I haven’t really been active in joining any community events – save for those, the ones that are organized by Filipinos. And even now, I’ve actually haven’t really gone to many. That was only in the early years, 2012 until about 2014.

 

R: Do you mind telling us a bit about family in the States, and your relationship with them?

 

E: Yeah, so my family moved to the US in 2002, I think. Yeah, 2002. I’m the eldest, so I have 3 brothers. So initially, at the start, of course there were 4 brothers. I was the eldest. So I was separate from my entire family because in 2002, I was already over age. They could not get me a US visa. So I could not travel with them. So they all moved to the US, while I got left behind in the Philippines. But I started, of course like, I was already independent. So I was living in Manilla, and then I went back to Cebu, and then in 2006, that’s when I moved to Singapore. I’d say my family is a bit complicated in the sense that we’re good, we’re close in the sense that we stick together. But we’re not close in the sense that we’re always open about things. Like, for example, even my transition. They knew initially that I was different, even when I was younger. My father used to – and even my mother – call me out when I was younger, for being different. And then when I’m speaking on the phone, so there were no cellphones at that time – I’d speak on the phone, like especially if it’s a guy, I’d make my voice so feminine. And then kind of like really girly thing. And then my father would call that out. In a way I was fortunate because they turned a blind eye to my being different. Even if I could not really verbalize who I was. I never really thought about it, cos when you’re young you’re just playing. At least for me. Just kept on playing and going outside, and crawling around. I was an achiever, like academically I was good – so it’s like my parents were quite happy in that regard. So even if I was different, they get called for example in meeting regarding gay people – like my father’s angry about it, but didn’t really – y’know. Whereas I had friends who got like abused, like verbally abused, and y’know, got some physical abuse as well. So over time, especially when my parents were also getting older, in my transition I never really spoke with them. About it. Even my brothers. I think they just hold me in a very high regard, because I have become successful, professionally, and I was able to travel. And they could all see that. That I was able to visit them. So when I started, they saw my change every time I went to the US. So the first time I visited them, I still had short hair. And then the next time, my hair get longer. And then the next time, I was like wearing a dress. Like yeah –

 

L: Jump cuts –

 

E: Yeah, wearing a bra. So it’s like, they saw it and they never really talked about it. We never, so they just accepted it. At some point, my mom were just in a mall, and then, she’d say, I’ll get this for my daughter – so they accepted it without us talking about it. So we’re close, but we don’t really go into that depth of closeness. I think we still have some walls. And my brothers as well, we don’t talk much about these things. I’d say that despite that, we have each other. Cos I think, it’s a very Filipino culture, that’s engrained in us, that its your family, whose gonna be with you til the very end.

 

R: Have they visited you here?

 

E: No, but my parents – I’m bringing them here in October. But they’re going to be here in October.

 

R: Is, is broader recognition of trans identity important to you?

 

E: Not so much recognition – oh well, I guess, we can call it recognition when people start recognizing their trans. But more of really just some sort of normalcy? Like, its like, us being integrated into the society without even that… because when people walk around, like we don’t think consciously, ah that’s a girl, ah that’s a guy. So it’s like, just like some sort of normalcy. But I guess we can start with awareness and being recognized. Trans are, y’know, like real people. And just want to live their normal lives in a safe place. Yeah. So I think, yeah its important.

 

R: How does being trans relate to other aspects of your identity?

 

E: Um, in terms of what? Like, other aspects of my identity in terms of like, workplace?

 

R: I guess it’s up to how you interpret it. I guess like for me at least, like that question makes me think of how being trans and being queer is also related to being adopted, in my case. Or being a person of color, and that there’s some, I guess, ways in which those things overlap or create certain sets of challenges, or…

 

E: Yeah, hm –

 

R: Or also like, possibilities of connecting with other people, or, I dunno –

 

E: Yeah. Um well if I look back, like throughout – the decisions I’ve made in the major milestones in my life, such as moving different places. I haven’t, I just pursued things. Like, for example, I moved to Singapore without that being kind of uh… so it’s like, and maybe because I was banking on like, my abilities in going for – looking for work, for example. However, when I already became aware that I was trans, I was in Singapore, then I went to apply for new jobs. Then I started already masking, like consciously masking myself. So in my next job, for example, because I had already long hair, for me to be able to get the job, I had to tie my hair. Yeah, and then in the same way, when I moved here, I was already fully aware that yes, I’m trans. Although I hadn’t fully transitioned in the sense that I hadn’t taken any HRT yet, or I wasn’t like, my name was – and my gender markers were still male. So when I applied for work, I still masked myself. Like I identified as a man, although there was even a mistake. Like my boss was thinking for a whole week while I started working that I was ‘she’ – the entire company was thinking I was ‘she.’ And then when he asked for my documents, he was like um, it looks like there’s some mistakes in all your documents. And then I said, what do you mean? They’re all referring to you as he. And then, that was the moment where I regretted, looking back, however at that moment I needed the job. And I wasn’t aware yet of any laws here in Australia that would protect me.

 

So one week through to my work, I said, I replied to him – um it’s because I’m a ‘he.’ And then we corrected that, and to the entire company. And then a year later, almost a year and a half later, when I came out to my boss, he was totally fine with it. So if I started early on, then I would have lived fully as a woman, like outside work and in work. So I had like different identities, I was managing different identities. And I think even with my family, I did it slowly. And now even if I came out to my boss in my first company, I went in to my second company fully as a woman. And then still managing different identities in a way that, yes I’m now living my truth. But even when I started, I had that notion that top management knew, and had their back if it came to some bullying or something. But at the back of my head, I’m interacting with all these other staff, and I’m presenting myself as a woman. But there are conversations – I cannot relate to, or cannot say something about. Let’s say, if we’re going to talk about periods, or talk about giving birth, and then you know, all in a room full of women, because that’s how I’m presenting myself. So managing these… and even now, I’m on my third company, I went in there, went to the interview and on the very last question that I asked them, I was totally open, I asked them: so what’s the company’s culture and outlook toward LGBTQ? And then, so they answered, they were open about it. And then, I said, as a transgender person, it’s like, this is important for me. And they hired me. So I was pretty happy with that. So now, and I told them, I don’t want to keep this a secret, like I’m gonna say this out because I wanna be able to live myself, like totally who I am.

 

Now, I got that out of the way, but still now I’m new, I’m 7 months into the work, I still haven’t really fully come out, like totally talk about being my trans? So its still, there’s still a part of me that’s holding back. For example, if I’m speaking with my seat mate, and there are, there are occasions where I could have just said – ah, because I’m going to a trans talk, or something like that. But I still haven’t done that. So I’m still trying to find the perfect timing where I’ve already established a good relationship with people. And I have a gut feeling that they already know. Because I told the upper management during the interview that I want people to know. But its just that I haven’t crossed that line yet. So I manage that, these identities. So it smore of like, I equate it to work because that’s where I’m always at – but when I’m outside, with my friends or people who know me, like I’m totally open about it. Except for probably strangers, because we probably don’t talk about those things [laughs]

 

Besides, I think we’re aiming for normalcy. Like we’re walking around, we don’t talk about these things as if they’re something that’s kind of a struggle. Like, we want to be just like, you know, going about our days without even thinking about it. Yeah.

 

L: I really feel you on that. I feel like in my life, with my partner, with my friends, I might be a certain way and still transitioning at work. It’s like holding these different identities, and even though I think that people are fine, probably know, that this is happening – it’s still like, there’s something inside me that’s not starting that conversation. But it is that thing as well, like I just wanna get on with my life and my work, and not to have to have these conversations.

 

E: Yeah, –

 

L: But also be real, be true to myself –

 

E: Yeah – it’s the same thing as being like, I’m not an activist, but I think I wanna put my voice out there in some way. On one hand, I’m not an activist because I, like I’m – I just want to live my life in a normal way. But the reality is, there are things that still needs to be done. In terms of progressing trans awareness and trans recognition. Yeah.

 

And the sad thing, which I’ve realized, and its because I’ve realized this – what I’m about to say, because I’ve read Janet Mock’s book, autobiography. The sad thing about being trans in my case, I’m fortunate that I pass. I’d say that I pass as a woman, and I can go about my ways without being judged, without having eyes looking at me. And that’s in a way good. But its also sad. Because not all trans will pass. And not all trans will want to pass. They’re happy with how they look. Its probably different between people. But they can’t, some people can’t be trans, because of that particular stereotyping where – if you’re gonna be trans, you have to look like a woman. At least for trans women. So these stereotyping, that even exist in our community of trans, even, that’s what makes it sad. And needs to be dismantled. Yeah.

 

R: Is that, Redefining Realness?

 

E: Yeah, that’s the one. And I think she has a follow up book –

 

R: Recently published, right? Yeah I haven’t read it.

 

E: Yeah I haven’t read the second one too

 

R: That was such an amazing book! Yeah, I think that’s a really important point that you’re making, that she makes too, yea –

 

E: Yeah its sad, isn’t it. I’m successful as a trans woman, because I’m passing. But for others, people think that other trans as not, like why are you doing that. It’s like – um, they can’t be outside in the open world without prying eyes, without judging eyes, just because they couldn’t pass. And then that’s what’s wrong. So yeah. It’s not something previously I was celebrating – oh I pass! But its not something to be totally celebrated.

 

L: It’s complex, hey –

 

E: Yeah, it is –

 

R: Yeah, I think you said earlier, that there’s so many ways of being trans. That the problem is when one image just becomes the one way, that this is what trans looks like – then that can have negative repercussions for a whole host of other people.

 

E: It is. I actually met a guy, and we had, we went into a heated argument because of this. Because that was part of delivering his point. And then he was so much into trans, but he is boxing the idea of trans into this – you’ve gone to surgery, you present yourself as woman, dress up as a woman, and look like a woman, not an inch of ‘male’ aspect that can be, y’know. And then I told him, I think it’s wrong. Because you are trivializing the struggles of those other people who try to be trans, and then its not just that – some of them made decisions that they just want to look how they are, but they’re trans. They are trans women. So yeah, these are – and because it’s a heated argument, it’s a classic example that there are people out there who will still be on the notion, that closed notion, that you have to look in a certain way.

 

L: I’m really glad this is going on the record, people with hear it!

 

E: [laughs]

 

L: I’m just wondering what you would tell someone who was younger, or earlier in their transition, what kind of – if you could say one thing, what that might be? What you just said was really beautiful, but is there anything else that you’d – ?

 

E: Yeah, I think: just listen to yourself, and decide for yourself who you want to be. And then don’t just like look at what stereotypes there are out there. If you can take them as inspiration, but not something that you would have to really follow. You can, you can make your own decisions and pave for your own, have your own destiny. Like, whatever – its not just about looks. It’s also about your way of thinking, though I think the most important thing is basically to remember that we as being part of a minority, should the first ones to be the most open-minded. But we do not enforce our beliefs onto some other people. There’s, and we have to recognize that people can be different. It’s one thing to be different. It’s another thing also to have something that’s right or wrong. So, for example, it’s wrong when you start imposing that you need to go for breast implants because you want to be a trans woman. So that is wrong. But on the other hand, its okay if you have a decision that I don’t wanna go for trans, for implant – just that’s my decision. And we have to respect that.

 

L: I guess the flip question is, what might you say to an older trans person?

 

E: The times have changing, like I think its, we’re going in a good direction. Like, in the same way that the gays and the lesbians had their time before, and its now kind of there, and there’s a wide acceptance in a lot of countries, such as Australia. Older trans could probably still have some struggles at some point. Even for me, when I’m managing all different identities in different environments and different people – I think my message to the older trans is probably just to keep on going. And be the light, and guide the younger ones. Because I’m very sure that we have more experience. We’ve gone through a lot than the younger ones. And we don’t have to be activists, but we can get our voices heard in some way or another. Yeah.

 

R: Do you have any relationships with younger trans people?

 

E: Uh, well yeah I do. I actually have, but its more limited to Filipinos.

 

R: Yeah?

 

E: Its more of like a, regular, some catch-ups. Yeah, so that sort of relationship.

 

R: Would you say its kind of like a mentoring – ?

 

E: Um, in a way yes. And I think its not even just like for younger trans that I know. But still, my age or even older than me. I mentor them in terms of, especially in HRT. Because they tend to just do it by themselves. And I always stress that these are our bodies, like you can do anything you want with it, but of course there are risks. And it goes back to, y’know, trying to achieve that all-feminine look. So they tend to just like take everything all at once, and that actually has an impact on their kidneys. So for me, I’m more aware, I’m more knowledgeable in those areas, so I impart some knowledge and give some advice. I mentor them in those aspects. So some, for example, in work, how they present themselves. Yeah, when conversations come up, yeah. But I don’t, like, actively say: oh, you have to do this. That’s like – it goes against with what I’ve said earlier! I won’t enforce my beliefs. I’m gonna say, and give them options. Yeah.

 

L: That’s wonderful. Is there anything else that you wanted to share?

 

E: I think I’ve said a lot already, like previously. But I think at the very end, its not applicable only to trans, but to people – to everyone! I think we just need to recognize that each individual is just so unique. And we just have to respect that. Like whatever, as long as that individual is not hurting someone or enforcing his beliefs, which is in a way already hurting someone. Or like trampling on someone’s rights. We should all be good. Like yeah, we should respect each individual’s choices, each individual’s looks. Because the problem with today’s society is that, especially with media and then commercialization, like – putting up a standard of beauty, a standard of – even a standard of morality – putting it out there, then we tend to try to enforce things because that’s what we see. We just need to be respectful. And in conversations we always need to listen, because the thing is, when we listen that’s when we learn. And that’s when – it broadens our mind. And then we start accepting people. Yeah.

 

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