This article is a guest post from regular contributor Motzie Dapul.
It’s no real surprise to find some of the worst examples of allegedly “human” behavior in the comments sections of Filipino news articles. It seems as though we’ve accepted the reality of bad-grammar internet criminals who are the ultimate examples of internet trolls, people who disregard humane and decent behavior and call it a joke. But as with all things, there will always be a division of opinions, arguments on the internet, dissent among the ranks of commenters everywhere.
Keeping this in mind, I delved into online articles about the recent murder of the transwoman Jennifer Laude, expecting to find the dredges of supposed humanity, but also waiting to find words of support for the murdered woman and her family. Needless to say, I found none. The consensus across multiple comment spaces seemed to be this: Jennifer Laude deserved to be murdered, for the apparently dire crime of existing.
And this isn’t just on the internet, where the rules and standards are much less rigid. In many articles in professional newspapers, Jennifer Laude was misgendered on multiple occasions, calling her by her birth name, Jeffrey, and referring to her as a “he”. This reveals an even deeper maliciousness in our society—either that most people do not comprehend the meaning of “transgender” despite its repeated use in news articles, or that they simply do not care to honor the wishes of the dead, to insult her life choices with the indignity of a gender forced on her rather than the one she chose. The simplicity of “her name was Jennifer” seems lost on those attempting to force the issue of “Jeffrey”.
Recently, Quezon City passed an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. It was an expansion of the 2003 ordinance which protected homosexuals from discrimination, and widened to cover LGBTs as a whole, not just gays and lesbians. It is an acknowledgement of the stigma and discrimination against non-binary persons and transpeople. With Jennifer Laude’s murder, it’s been proven right in its fears. To be blamed for her own murder, to be made a joke even after her death, and to see the vocal support of her murderer, who has proven his guilt by hiding behind his superiors to avoid justice—these are more of the indignities Jennifer and her family have had to suffer. “Think of his state of mind”, they said, “to find out that she lied to him.” If lying were punishable by death, then we’d have very few people left on this earth, and if Americans were allowed to murder our people on a whim, then what justice can we expect as Filipinos? Moreover, whatever Jennifer might have lied about in her life, introducing herself as a woman was not one of these lies. If she chose to be a woman and dedicated her life to making it so, then she was a woman. That is what being trans means, though most people seem to actively rail against that fact, by maliciously using the term to make her an “other”, and less of a victim.
The fact that Jennifer’s existence harmed nobody seems to be lost on most people, who come up with the most hilariously disgusting and appalling excuses not to take her murder seriously. To hear the venomous slurs and hatred coming from people who never met her, who blame her for being the victim of her own murder, who would rather justify her murderer than find justice for her, is surreal. Transphobia is a disease, one of the more powerful and fatal ones that has proven its grievousness in Filipinos in recent days. And if your hatred is so deep-set that you’d rather protect a murderer, who’s proven to have a temper that results in strangling his victims and drowning them in toilets, then I advise you keep him company, and wait for him to lose his temper again with you in the room.
Featured photo taken here.
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