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4 transpinays who are breaking stereotypes and reshaping gender roles

By Hannah Mallorca Published Mar 08, 2022 8:40 pm

We still have a long way to go in achieving equality and inclusivity among transgender people in the Philippines. According to a study, trans people "remain vulnerable to widespread discrimination based on their gender identity and gender expression." Up until now, many are still fighting for the sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (SOGIE) bill to be passed in the congress.

But in the recent years, there has been progress in favor of the trans community—more are being casted in films, beauty pageants are becoming more inclusive, and there's now room for them in politics, too.

In honor of International Women’s Day, we list down four inspiring transpinays who empowered the LGBTQIA+ community with their journey towards self-acceptance and shattered gender stereotypes in the local and international scene.

BB Gandanghari

BB Gandanghari is perhaps the most well-known transwoman among the four since she used to be the matinee idol, action star, and teen heartthrob Rustom Padilla. 

She first came out as gay in the reality show Pinoy Big Brother in 2006 and eventually came out as a transwoman in 2009. In November 2016, Gandanghari was legalized as a woman in the US. 

In a July 2021 interview with web series SO Candid, Gandanghari admitted that she “wouldn’t change” anything about her journey from Rustom to BB amid the hardships. 

“I think I’m very comfortable now and happy in a sense that I’m able to express myself the way I want to express myself. I’m able to present myself in the way I want to present myself. This may sound cliché but if I change anything [about my journey], baka hindi ito ako kasi komportable na talaga ako ngayon eh,” she said. 

The out-and-proud Gandanghari has been signed with the US-based talent agency The Brogan Agency since September 2017. In August 2019, she made her debut in the third season of the Netflix series GLOW where she starred as a fortune-teller named Patricia.

Jiggly Caliente

May we call her Jiggly? Bianca Castro, popularly known as Jiggly Caliente, is a Pinay drag performer who made waves in the fourth season of the hit competition series Rupaul’s Drag Race and the sixth season of its spinoff RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars

Caliente also portrayed the role of Veronica Ferocity in the American TV series Pose and released her debut album T.H.O.T. Process in 2018. 

The drag icon, who came out as transgender in 2016, caught the attention of Drag Race fans after littering down the runway per strut in season four’s trash challenge. 

When Caliente returned to All-Stars 6, she revealed that coming out as a trans woman was a “huge weight off my shoulders.”

“Now, I know who I am as an entertainer. I know who I am as a queen. I know who I am as a person,” she added.

Geena Rocero

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Model, TED speaker, writer, director, transgender advocate, and the founder of Gender Proud media production company—Geena Rocero can do it all. Born in Manila, the Filipina-American beauty moved to New York City where she became an American citizen in 2006

In a January 2015 report from CNN, Geena opened up about her involvement with transgender beauty pageants from the age of 15. “Yet despite this nuanced understanding, and despite the pageant culture I grew up in, in many countries, fluidity is celebrated but not politically recognized,” she added. 

Rocero, who gained widespread recognition as a supermodel, revealed that coming to New York helped her come to terms with her identity. “Being a model in New York City, I was allowed to express myself and through that expression, I was able to learn more about myself,” she told MTV News in 2015

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The supermodel eventually came out as a trans woman in a powerful TED Talk on Mar. 31, 2014, which coincided with the International Transgender Day of Visibility. She explained that she couldn’t “live my truth for and by myself” since she wants to help others “live their truth without shame and terror.”

“I never had the courage to share my story. Not because I thought what I am is wrong, but because of how the world treats those of us who wish to break free,” she said.

Angie Mead King

Formerly known as Ian King, Angie Mead King broke the internet after she came out as a trans woman in July 2016. The businesswoman and car enthusiast, who wed Filipina-Iranian model Joey Mead King, the then-Ian started transitioning a couple of years into their marriage in 2011.

Going back from Manila to Los Angeles, Angie is managing car-related businesses, a luxury luggage company, and a farm. She’s also the managing director of the popular motel chain Victoria Court. 

Angie revealed that her relationship with her wife was initially rough when she was revealing parts of her real self in a Tonight With Boy Abunda interview in January 2020.

“It was rough. In any relationship where a man or a woman transitions, it’s stressful kasi it questions ‘yung mga gender norms, ano ‘yung role ng tao, asawa, babae, o lalaki. So parang, everything gets blurry,” she said.

Despite their hardships, Angie said they’re “growing more” into their relationship and expressed how her wife’s love helped her to come to terms with herself.