Why Name Changes Are Important to Transgender People
A few years ago, a young and talented singer named Charice Pempengco came out as a lesbian, then subsequently introduced the world to her then-girlfriend, Alyssa Quijano.
Flash-forward to 2017 and Charice—who once told Oprah that his "soul is male"—has changed his name to Jake Zyrus, a major move that the pop culture world hasn't seen since Caitlyn Jenner in 2015.
The news has been met with mixed reactions: while many have supported Jake's decision, some poked fun at his name choice, while others were confused at its significance to transgender people. At the end of the day, however, it's a decision that greatly impacts the Filipino LGBTQ+ community.
In their own words, here is why changing names is a very, very big deal and something to be treated with the utmost respect and understanding.
Vince Liban, incoming Punong Babaylan (President) of UP Babaylan:
"It means a lot for the LGBT Community, especially for our trans siblings, to have someone like Jake Zyrus affirm his gender identity. This isn't about what his sexual orientation is anymore, but how he ought to be comfortable in his own skin and even to his own name.
I think it's important to note that we don't choose our gender identities. The only choice [is] to affirm one's gender identity and to come out. Jake Zyrus came out on his own pace. The burden is now on us as compassionate individuals to accept him for who he really is."
Nick Fernandez, former Chairman of PinoyFTM (the first trans man organization in the Philippines):
"Name changes are one of the most significant points in a transgender person's life. Unlike haircuts or change of clothing style, name changes often mean that the transition is taking a deeper and more personal level. It is one of the moments when the person is exposing their vulnerability, just like when a child is born to the world. When you combine the words 'celebrity' and 'LGBT,' it is bound to get some significant attention and reaction. In the Philippines, the concept of 'girl, boy, bakla, tomboy' is tightly latched to the culture and Jake's move challenged that again, similar to BB Gandang Hari, Angie King, and Aiza Seguerra.
However, the concept of being a transgender person is still a very misunderstood concept with people ending up seeing the person either as bakla or tomboy, especially if they have identified as either one for some time. We hope that Jake can use his voice to speak for all us and effectively help in educating people that transgender people exist because celebrities are very influential. We are hoping that Jake can stand his ground and become one of the platforms for all those who cannot speak for themselves."
Jamie Doble,UP Babaylan alumnus:
"Names are powerful and they are even more so to the transgender community. Name changes are symbolic; they affirm one's gender identity, the same way labeling one's self as gay, lesbian, or bisexual affirms one's sexual orientation.
Jake Zyrus' name change is a milestone for the Philippine transgender community. To have a celebrity that is so young and yet sure of who he is [to the point of] making such a bold, public change is important to transgender youth and to LGBT youth in general. What is crucial right now is how we choose to react. Do we reject and make fun of his name change, thereby fostering disrespect, hate, and intolerance towards transgender people? Or do we show compassion and promote acceptance towards our transgender brothers and sisters? Like Jake's name change, that decision is ours alone, and what we choose to do determines what kind of people we will be to the Philippine LGBT community."
Angel Romero, Creative Director and Partner of Kapuwa Bistro + Urban Pub (an LGBT-friendly restaurant in the metro):
"[The] bottomline is respect. Human sexuality is diverse and everyone has the right to self-identity. This is why we need to have SOGIE out there so people would understand that it is a basic human right. Jake's move is a big step, and I applaud him for that. It encourages discourse, and it puts a spotlight on issues such as self-identity and respect for something as basic as the right to live your own life and even the right to choose who to love."
Slac Cayamanda, spoken word artist and Communications Officer at PinoyFTM:
"I for one, am one of those people that have not been blessed [with] an androgynous name. I cringe every time I am called by my birth given name at government offices, banks, and other legal transactions. I choose the name Shane Laurence, because it sounds a bit close to my birth given name. But its not the name that Im known for. For the last 20 years, I have settled for the nickname Slac and its what people have known me for, onstage and offstage.
If Jake Zyrus is the name he chooses, well, we should all respect him for it. Teasing him that it sounds like a vampire slayer is not entirely something I would call 'acceptance.' Boy, do people have a weird concept of acceptance. If you truly accept someone, regardless of their gender, you don't need to make jokes about it. I salute him for having the balls to come out with an amazing name. Much love and respect to Jake Zyrus."
Gian Paulo Cabuena, fashion designer and writer:
"Jake Zyrus' name change will definitely make it clearer for straight people to understand transgender people. I just hope that people will keep their minds open regarding this. When a celebrity comes out of the closet, lots of eyes and ears will be [on] them. At their expense, most especially here in the Philippines where it's a Catholic-dominated nation, the LGBT+ is given a voice which is not listened to by most people. And I'm thankful for the LGBT+ celebrities who are courageous enough to amplify that voice."
Chase Tolentino, founder of Transman Equality and Awareness Movement (a Cebu-based trans man organization):
"For transgender people, selecting a new name is important. Our names are used every day by the people we meet, the people we work with, by our friends and family. Often, the selection process takes time. It's more about what fits us, what it means to us, and what matters to us than what sounds good. Often, friends and family are part of the selection process. They suggest names or select from a list of names you've prepared.
When celebrities transition, it brings more attention to our cause. It's definitely a positive thing. However, celebrities are not always the best spokespersons for the whole community. For instance, Jesi Corcuera said that Aiza and Jake were not trans because they didn't have facial hair. His statements shape public perception of trans persons as persons who take hormones to effect changes on their bodies. This isn't true. Trans people can be trans without taking hormones or undergoing surgery. So hopefully, while Jake Zyrus gives us more visibility, media should still approach advocates for more information on transgender issues."
Shawn Ma, member of Transman Equality and Awareness Movement:
"The greatest fear of having a celebrity be a spokesperson for a whole community is the fact that you might be misrepresented. Jake seems to be (unintentionally) a spokesperson who is and will still be under scrutiny because of his career. But in his case having an indirect approach seems to be working. He doesn't really go into educating the general public but a lot of people are taking this news well and it's sparking interest and curiosity in them. Although it might or might not be because he's a celebrity, but it is shedding some light into the fact that we exist. A lot of people have never even heard of the word transgender before.
A celebrity changing his name to one that he identifies with teaches the general public to respect our gender identities as well as in using preferred names and pronouns. And Jake's response to their acceptance shows everyone just how big of a deal [changing one's name] is for us no matter how simple it may seem to other people.
Having a lot of the public backing him up and giving him positive feedback gives hope to a lot of us in the transgender community. It gives us hope that we are moving forward in our humanity and coming closer to not just tolerable, but a more understanding, accepting and loving community."
To learn more about transgender people and the issues that matter to them, log on to GLAAD's official website.
This story originally appeared on Spot.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Candymag.com editors.
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By: Jairus Gabriel A. Cardinoza
With the world suffering by crisis and chaos today, where everyone of us seems to be caged, may be in our home, in our thoughts, with our regrets, or even with someone whom we can never have, while sulking in our house with our home works and household choirs, there are those idle moments when I stop and stare into oblivion, I can’t help but to think about those moments where we are the happiest, or we are the most sad, we have our own highlights of our life, either our downfall or shortcomings, sometimes our triumphs, but how about those moments caught in between but played as much as important episode to those we remember the most?
Sometimes you can’t help but to think about those moments in between. We think that our life is built by big moments, but little do we realized how little they play in our lives, we barely even consider the little things, that made a huge impact in our lives, maybe it wasn’t about the medal you’ve got from winning an essay contest, but the stranger who let you borrow his/her pen because you forgot yours at home, maybe it wasn’t the brand new watch that your parents gave you as a present but the person that you saved unconsciously, asking you what time is it because he/she was worried he/she might be late for the class.
Admit it, or not, we have all took those moments for granted, those moments when everything is in between. In times like this, where a crisis is on the midst, our mind often wanders elsewhere, there will always be that moments that the silence of our room will be filled by the cacophonies of our thoughts that strangle us in the subtle ways. The only solace we could find in this misery is sometimes our memories, not the big ones but those moments we once thought idle, who would have guess that the last time you drink your favorite coffee was a month ago, or the comfort of your favorite street you passed after school, hoping you could meet the person you want to talked to accidentally, the way you rush to the favorite fast food chain after a tiring day, hoping for a cone of ice cream, our life will always be built by these moments.
There will always be something in between, that stiches two extremes into a one fine art, between love and pain, there is learning, the midnight always reminds us that yesterday is over but there is always a tomorrow waiting for us to rise, between our dreams and our failures, there is hope, the wisest person sometimes understand that life is a prism, it can blind us with all the colors and wonders of its side, but there is one source of light that made all those colors possible. Take a chance to be that light, that sees not only the parts that we hide, nor the highlights of our lives but those moments of everything in between.
TITLE: Good night
It was the morning of May 5; I went to the ICU to take the morning shift. I peeked from the sliding door and saw a female doctor and 3 nurses probably making their rounds. Half asleep, I entered the room not realizing what was happening. I sat in front of my grandma’s bed, waiting for the doctors to leave. My aunt was crying from the corner of the room, I thought that perhaps my grandma was deteriorating. Then the monitor on the upper left part of the bed kept beeping, then the lady in white coat announced “time of death 8:50”.
Everything froze, I didn’t understand a thing. I saw my aunt hug our grandma so tight, shaking out of grief and desperation. I sat there frozen and speechless, it was so surreal I thought it was a dream. My sister who was sitting beside me took a few heavy steps towards grandma’s bed. She hugged our grandma and whispered words lost in between her sobs.
When it was my time, I held her right hand, the hand I used to wipe and hold. It wasn’t cold, it was still warm, soft and wrinkly. The bruises from countless injections she endured. I pressed her hand trying to wake her up, more tears rolled when she wouldn’t respond. “Inang! Agriing kan a, bigaten!” (Granma wake up, it’s morning already) I wrapped my hands around her, she’s the same Inang I used to hug but this time she isn’t hugging me back. I tried to wake her up a couple more times more desperate than the last. I wanted to see those little eyes open again and look at me. I wanted her to ask me “apaya nakkong?” (why my dear?) once more. How about calling me miss Universe when she forgets my name. I loved her and will love her even if she calls me the wrong name.
I still remember the night she held my hands so tight she said “ haan nak panpanawan a, ta nu matay nak ket haan ko nga maymaysa.” (Please don’t leave me so that if I die, I will not be alone “I hope I fulfilled my promise to her I hope she didn’t die lonely but happy. The room was enveloped with grief engraved in the cries we made but in the middle of the room, there she lies. She laid still, she looked so serene and peaceful. It looked like she was having a good nap. It was the first time in years that I saw her sleep so tight.
After all the restless nights she can finally sleep. I wiped my tears as I marvel the way she looked. It was a painful but beautiful sight. I wanted her to wake up but how could I ask that if she looked so peaceful now? After all the pain she endured she is finally resting. I couldn’t ask her to come back when I know she’s in a better place. She is free now, free from pain and suffering. I stop waking her up and held her hand tightly, in between my cries I bid goodbye. To my dearest Inang Nani, go on find the light. I know Tatang and Tito are waiting for your arrival. Rest well Inang, Good night.
Loneliness that Turned into Beautiful Solitude
Are you one of those many people who experienced loneliness? The moment where you do not have someone else to rely on. Have you experienced it? Going home with a lot of thoughts running in your mind but no one was there to listen. Have you ever felt bad for yourself? In realizing that you were the only one left. When every one else was leaving. When most people around you have chosen others over you. Have you experienced the pain? The pain of being alone? A lot of people are afraid to be alone for various reasons. Some people says that they are just used to something that there is always someone out there for them. Someone who is always there. Someone who is always ready to accompany them in all. Someone who is always willing to stay. Stays in your best and most especially at your worst. While others simply do not have the courage to face the world of loneliness. I, experienced the pain of loneliness but gained a lot of benefit from it.
Living alone is not a simple thing for me to do but for me to survive and acquire proper education, I have to. I have to learn to live alone. In living alone, I had face a lot of difficulties. I encountered a lot of problems that were made to be fixed by many but was able to get it fixed by myself. Yes it was hard, it is hard. It was never easy to begin with. There will be times or days that it can make you drain and cause you countless sleepless nights. Yes, it is painful. But we have to realize that in loneliness, we can also find peace in ourselves. The "YOU". The genuine "YOU".
People are so afraid to experience loneliness. Most of us do not realize that with so much fear of being alone, we started to forget that good things come from being alone. As time pass by, I got used in solving problems by myself, I learned to live alone, I saw the "beauty of loneliness" that's how my loneliness slowly turned into beautiful solitude. As time passes by, I realized that there are a lot of good things that you can get in being alone. So, for those who are reading this, I hope you guys learn to appreciate the beauty of being alone.
Old is New
The issue of the pandemic, COVID-19, have resulted to quarantine. Stuck in the house and only going out when needed. This may be a boring routine but to me, this is an opportunity to get to take care of myself and pay attention to myself.
Since I started college in 2019, I rarely get to do any of my hobbies and sleep has become a diamond in the rough. This is because I was focused on my classes and getting my school requirements done but now that face-to-face classes have been suspended and the school has decided to resume it through the use of the internet, this gave me time check on myself even if it's only for a short while before I get back on finishing the tasks given.
For the passed months I have been spending time with my family, eating, and sleeping more along with doing my school requirements. We got to get to tell stories about what has happened before the quarantine. I have also gotten back to recording songs in Smule, an app I use a lot before, learned a few recipes and I have even started learning songs to play on my piano keyboard.
Since we're in quarantine, I recommend everyone to try and get back to what they like doing and/or even learn new things. My sister heard me trying to learn a song and asked me to teach her, so I did just that. I taught her a song she wanted to learn which is "Love Is All That Matters" by Eric Carmen. But I am not a professional, I mostly search for sheet music and tutorials on YouTube.
When it comes to learning a song, I usually only learn the chords and sing along to the melody, but my sister wanted to learn the whole song so I did my best to learn not just the chords but also the melody on the piano. My sister has only learned to play the melody but is having a hard time playing it together with the chords. I can see her determination in learning the piano because whenever she comes home from work, I hear her practice the song on the piano and every time she practices, she improves.
Me, on the other hand, have been and singing with my friends on Smule. Despite the pandemic going on right now, I have managed to go back to my old hobbies, pay attention to myself and even spend time with my family. I hope everyone is also for happiness during this dreadful times.
Things Every Titas of K-pop Went Through
For someone who has been a K-pop fan since 2009, I’ve witnessed how the Korean wave continuously stayed on our shores and how it blossomed from the 2nd generation of K-pop Idols to the 3rd generation. And before we can even enjoy social media and live-streaming today, we had a hard time fangirling back then and here, I’ve listed the struggles only Titas of K-pop can relate to.
1. Dealing with a slow internet connection
For some reason, the internet back then was significantly slower than it is today. Youtube videos take too long to load and watching your favorite Korean music show online requires you to dwell on the never-ending buffering that the slow internet connection gives. Patience is a virtue, sis!
2. Downloading k-pop songs
Before we can even enjoy the existence of Spotify, the only way to revel in our favorite k-pop songs multiple times is to have them downloaded or sometimes, you have to buy the physical album first and have the songs ripped from the CD. The struggle is real, I know!
3. Your favorite k-pop group just don’t visit your country
Since K-pop is still not popular in the country back then, when your favorite K-pop group announces world tour, there’s a zero probability that you will get to see your bias in the flesh because Philippines is not always a part of their tour. It’s seriously heartbreaking, tbh!
4. Buying a merch is a rough quest
Few years ago, K-pop was not as popular than it is now, so there are only few k-pop shops online who ship merchs in the Philippines but when they do, the shipping fee is way too expensive and sometimes they cost more than the merchandise itself. But now, you can drop by Divisoria or anywhere in Manila and you’ll find a k-pop merch at a cheap price! Imagine!
5. Watching videos without subtitles
The struggle is real when the most anticipated appearance of your idol on a TV show comes out only to find out that there are no subtitles! So you just end up waiting for someone to upload the subtitles and for the extreme level, you find time in learning the Korean language and wish to speak Korean so you can watch in peace. To become a fan might be one of the most challenging roles to play but believe me when I say that it is just one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
/Cover photo from SM Entertainment