Issues many transgender people face in Manila

Although society seemingly gives credit to the Philippines for accepting the transgender community overall – many transgender people face discrimination in Manila. While it may seem like a non-threatening place for LGBT+ individuals, partly due to its pre-colonial history, Manila lacks legislation to protect transgender people. Advocates continue to push for an overarching bill which would incriminate discrimination, throughout the country. Currently, only some cities have ordinances in support of transgender rights, excluding Manila. Ultimately, issues regarding transgender rights in Manila involve colonialism and a lack of legal authority to prevent discrimination. 


Indigenous people in the Philippines accepted transgender people. In fact, deities in archipelago mythology prove LGBTQI+. Even spiritual leaders were transgender. Then, colonizers brought Islam and Christianity to the Philippines. Since cisgender characters remain the norm in both religious, people developed a stigma towards the transgender community. Even though society recognizes that a majority of Filipinos in pre-colonial history supported trans people and continue to support the community today, no overarching anti-discrimination laws exist. Only ordinances exist at a regional level.

One bill exists to prevent discrimination, but it has not been passed. Moreover, the government has a history of rejecting the bill. Its acronym SOGIE stands for sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. Advocates prioritize the proposed law, even though it’s not new, because it spans the entire country. As aforementioned, the only legislation to protect trans people lies in regional ordinances.

Recent Incident

In a town outside of Manila, Quezon City, authorities arrested a transgender woman at a mall. A janitor discriminated against her for using the women’s washroom. Since legislation hasn’t been established at a national level, citizens do not have a baseline protocol for prosecution.

Without proper legislation, colonization persists because of a lack of separation between church and state. Catholics – who generally view transgender rights as unlawful – have probably seen more legislation passed in support of religious rights than transgender people have seen to support civil rights, in the Philippines. For example, the martial law made it customary for citizens to accept that marriage remains an institution solely between a man and a woman.

When a government does not normalize transgender rights in civil society or in establishments across the country, it perpetuates colonialism and discrimination. By not recognizing transgender rights within the workplace, many transgender people will not work in his, her or their respective fields. Regarding further discrimination, any reader can google ‘meet transgender singles and find a handful of search results output discriminatory and demeaning terms for transgender escorts – which proves that there’s a discrepancy between the Philippines’ reputation as a LGBT-friendly country and a government that does not provide sufficient legislation for its citizens.

Ultimately, issues regarding transgender rights speak to a lack of legislation and colonialism.