The dress code for Valkyrie (above) doesn't mention a no-crossdressing policy, despite what its guards enforced on a recent Saturday night.
No sandos. No shorts. No slippers. These are just some of the policies establishments impose on their guests, but recently a new one came to light: No crossdressing.
Filipino fashion designer and transwoman Veejay Floresca was nearly denied at the doors of Valkyrie and The Palace Pool Club, when security held up an alleged policy not to admit crossdressers - even after Floresca showed a valid ID with a female gender marker.
The LGBT community and its supporters quickly backed up the designer via Facebook statuses, with some calling out the establishments for maltreating them in the same way.
(PR Manager Janlee Dungca on Facebook; highlights the editors' own)
At the moment, the House of Representatives Committee on Women and Gender Equality have made strong efforts in pushing for a bill that would make refusal to admit a person in an institution on the basis of sexual orientation (among other reasons) unlawful. Though the Anti-Discrimination Bill has been approved, it has yet to be enacted.
Valkyrie and The Palace Pool Club, being private establishments, still do have the legal right to enforce a dress code within their premises, in the same way that schools or offices do.
But this is dangerous ground to tread on.
By this logic, transwomen and transmen should just not go to a place where they do not agree with the rules, or where the rules are enforced so as to prevent them from entering the place. (Or, in Floresca's case, they are humiliated first, and then let in. Though that, too, kind of sounds like segregation.) This is similar to what stylist Margaux Medina posted on her Facebook wall, sparking the ire of netizens.
So maybe the question is not about whether something is legal, but rather: is it okay that that rule exists?
But first, on the count of whether transwomen and transmen are crossdressers: No they are not.
Note: Crossdressing is when a man or woman dresses up as the opposite sex while transgenderism is a term used for those whose identity, expression, or general sense of self does not conform to what is usually associated with the sex they were born with.
They identify with the gender completely; they are not just 'dressing up' like them.
Now, on the count of whether a crossdressing rule is even permissible in this day and age:
(Jose Marie Viceral, Vice Ganda on Twitter)
Public opinion, or at least those of many on social media, seems to be stacked against it.
Interestingly, part-owner JM Rodriguez claims Valkyrie has no such policy on crossdressing.
In the Philippines, there are no statistics available on the number of transwomen, but there are non-profit organizations that have galvanized themselves to further awareness about their rights - not to mention, other instances of discrimination against the trans community.
“Other than these party places, prejudicial acts like this happen in various ways,” said a post on STRAP Kababaihan Philippines, Inc.'s Facebook page. From being asked to leave the women-and-children MRT car, or to tie one's long hair in a ponytail to have a picture taken for a government-issued ID, transwomen constantly struggle to freely express themselves.
(STRAP via Facebook)
The right to self-determination, and how transmen and transwomen are denied it, is the root of this conflict. Unlike being told you chose to wear the wrong shoes today, or that your shirt lacks a collar (which are at most, mildly embarassing), what happened to Floresca is a denial of her right to wear something expressive of her self, and is frankly dehumanizing. "Transgender rights are human rights," reads the header on the site of the Philippine Transgender Movement. The problem with this anti-crossdressing policy is that it's not just anti-crossdressing. It's anti-human.