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LRT 1 admin apologizes after security guard shames transgender woman in line for women’s carriage

/ 03:58 PM August 29, 2019
'Low pressure' forces LRT-1 to unload passengers

Light Rail Transit 1 (LRT-1). INQUIRER file photo

A transgender woman who was denied access to the women’s carriage on an LRT described the experience as traumatizing, after a security guard yelled at her with a megaphone at a train station in Manila.

The Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC) which handles the operations of LRT line 1 apologized to the trans woman, Darna Evangelista, through a statement sent to INQUIRER.net on Thursday, Aug. 29.

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Evangelista, who is taking up a master’s degree in women and development at University of the Philippines Diliman, recounted her ordeal in Facebook last Aug. 7.

She said she was with her boss on the way home when a security guard at LRT Carriedo station questioned why she was in the line for the women’s carriage. As per her account, he asked her, “Nagpapalit na po ba kayo ng ano?” (Have you had your genitals changed?)

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When she asked if she had to show what was between her thighs to prove that she was a woman, the guard insisted, “Lalaki ka pa rin!” (You are still a man!)

Just as she was about to board the train, the guard yelled into his megaphone, “Sir bawal ka diyan kasi lalaki ka pa rin!” (Sir you cannot board because you are still a man!)

Evangelista confronted him, asking what he wanted to happen after shaming her in public. The guard said he was not shaming her, reiterating that she was not allowed on the women’s carriage and directed her to speak to their chief security guard.

When they faced the chief security guard, Evangelista asked if the staff had undergone gender sensitivity training and asked why she had to be shamed with the use of a megaphone, even if she had explained politely that she was a trans woman. Her boss also explained that in their previous trips via LRT they had not been questioned about her gender.

The chief apologized to them and said that such behavior is not tolerated. She was also allowed to board the women’s carriage. However, she still felt shaken by the experience knowing that others had witnessed the incident.

Evangelista told INQUIRER.net that after the incident, she has avoided riding the train because she has been traumatized. She now opts to ride the FX even if the commute takes longer.

Her Facebook post received mixed reactions: She was attacked by bashers, with many siding with the security guard’s actions. She also gained support from members of the LGBTQ+ community and even from other security guards who reached out to apologize to her.

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Apology from LRMC

In its statement on the incident sent to INQUIRER.net, LRMC apologized to Evangelista for the treatment she received.

“Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC) believes that all passengers, regardless of their sexual orientation, deserve a safe, comfortable and reliable transportation that does not tolerate any form of discrimination,” it said.

It commended the station’s chief security guard “who handled the situation with utmost sensitivity by apologizing to Ms. Evangelista right away which was positively received by the passenger.”

“LRMC is steadfast in improving customer experience. We will continue to train our team members to respect all our customers,” it further said.

The statement did not indicate if such training will include gender sensitivity training, which aims to change behavior through awareness on gender issues.

Evangelista took the apology positively, telling INQUIRER.net that she did not want the guard to be removed from his post but simply wished to inform the LRT-1 management of such behavior. She hoped that the situation would serve as a lesson to all involved.

Call for respect

Evangelista’s incident happened days before trans woman Gretchen Diez was arrested after she entered a women’s restroom in a Quezon City mall and a janitress accosted her.

Evangelista said that in hers and Diez’s case, trans women and whoever committed the act of discrimination are all victims.

“We are victims of discrimination. They are victims of a lack of knowledge,” she said.

“Ang mali kasi doon is ‘yong approach,” she explained. (What was wrong was the approach.)

“Just like nung kay Gretchen, mali ang pananakit. Mali ‘yong mga binibitawan niyang salita. Kahit ano pa man ‘yan, kailangan mong pakitunguhan nang maayos,” she said.

(Just like what happened with Gretchen, it is wrong to hurt. The words used against her were wrong. Whatever it is, you should address them properly.)

She said that what is needed is respect, explaining that if people respected others, no harassment will take place: “Kasi kung may respeto ang isang tao, ambawat tao, walang pambabastos. Walang mangyayaring harassment kung walang taong bastos.”

(If a person has respect, each person, there will be no rudeness. There will be no harassment if there is no person who is rude.)

“Anupaman ang itsura mo, anupaman ang gender identity mo, kung sadyang bastos ang tao, mangyayari ‘yan kahit ano ang gender, kung cisgender, straight… Kaya hindi pwede natin sabihin na sa bakla o LGBT lang ang nangyayari ito.”

(Whatever your appearance or gender identity, if people are disrespectful, it will happen to anyone of any gender, whether cisgender or straight. We cannot say that this only happens to gay people or the LGBT community.)

Other forms of discrimination

Evangelista said she has also experienced discrimination in terms of employment. For instance, although she said she had qualifications such as being a LET passer and had the highest educational attainment among her fellow employees, she was not given a permanent position at Quezon City Hall. She learned that it was because her employer did not approve of her gender identity. Incidentally, Evangelista was working as a gender and development focal person. 

“Mahirap maging productive kapag alam mong limitado ang kilos mo, limitado ‘yong lugar na kung saan hindi ka tanggap ng nasa paligid mo,” she said.

(It is hard to be productive when you know your movements are limited, when a place is limited because you are not accepted by those around you.)

She moved to Manila where she was able to find a permanent position in Manila City Hall. She was an executive director of the city hall’s NGO secretariat office and also worked as a community organizer in Manila where she set up and conducted seminars on gender sensitivity training, mental health and HIV. She is also a host, singer and comedian in comedy bars.

She said based on her community organizing experience, the people she faces in the community who are less educated are more understanding of the plight of the LGBTQ+ community. On the other hand, she has faced discrimination from employers and employees who are highly educated because they lack awareness about LGBTQ+ issues.

With this, she hopes the government and companies will raise awareness about SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression) to employees and hold gender sensitivity training. This can help companies learn how to address LGBTQ+ clients and avoid conflicts.

She appealed, “Respeto at acceptance lang naman ang hinihiling po namin. Kung ano po ang respeto na binibigay namin sa inyo, sana ganun din po.”

(We only request for respect and acceptance. With what respect we give you, we hope to receive the same.) JB

RELATED STORIES:

Hontiveros urges passage of SOGIE Bill after trans woman’s arrest in mall

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TAGS: Discrimination, LGBTQ, LRMC, LRT, transgender
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