Life histories of transpeople in Asia
As told by Brenda Alegre, and excerpted from her thesis 'Psychological Perspectives and development of the transsexual woman: a phenomenological case study on male-to-female Filipino transsexuals'. Masters of Arts thesis, Clinical Psychology Major, Graduate School of the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines.
uploaded 7th September 2006.
Age: 32 (post operated)
Height: 175cm. Weight: 63kgs.
Birthplace: Quezon City
Ordinal position: youngest of two
Education: College graduate, Bachelors in Management major in Finance and Banking with 24 units earned in MBA
Work: Owns and manages her own Bar and Restaurant and a Beauty Salon
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
As we call her Diana Prince, she fondly remembers those days in her grade school years wherein she would always imitate the twirl of Lynda Carter in the famed TV show Wonder Woman. Diana always loved Wonder Woman and hoped that when she grows up, she could also have a body like that of the famous TV actress. At age 5, she already identified herself as a woman. She would always watch her mom put on make up although her mom would tell her not to. Diana did not like her given name, it is too masculine and it is only for boys. She never paid attention to her toys (toy cars, robots, guns etc.). Instead, she would borrow her sister’s dolls and bags. She was also fond of the colors pink, violet and yellow and hated black, brown and blue because she would associate them with masculinity. Diana’s mother was closer to her since she would usually be at home unlike her father who was working abroad in between (Saudi). She was fond of watching TV and identified more with the female characters like Maria and Ms. Piggy of Sesame street, Wonder Woman, Cheetara of Thundercats and Charlie’s Angels’ Farrah Fawcett. Her playmates were girls but sometimes she would play with boys; only if these were role play games like Superfriends or “bahay bahayan”, wherein she will always assume the female characters. In school, she would be more comfortable seated with the girls rather than the boys and would be more comfortable working with them.
She had her first crush at the age of 9 with a boy named William, two years her senior. Diana felt different and excited but shy; she waited for William to court her (manligaw). Around this time she would always wear her female classmates’ uniforms after classes since she dislike the boys’ uniform and felt uncomfortable wearing briefs and sandos. At this age, she felt the conviction to her ambitions to become a housewife, businesswoman and teacher. Studying in a Catholic University with the top medical training, she once asked doctors in their clinic about the possibility of converting her penis into a vagina. This was when the term transsexual was first introduced to her, she was amazed! She then added a new goal and ambition- to become a “new woman!” Diana recalled that this may have been the reason why she became an exemplary performer in school and active in the household. She would wash the dishes, assist in cooking, clean up after meals and watch their maid do the laundry. “No one stopped me in witnessing female household chores so I felt that I can do things confined to women.” Diana had a mind set of what is feminine, “women are different from men, being feminine means being soft, mild, finesse and sophisticated.” She added that “I guess I had to exert an extra effort to be like a woman.” She recalled that sometimes people would ask her why she thinks she is like a girl, she always tells them and she believed that she may have been born in the “wrong body.” She did not like though being called “bakla.” She remembers the image of homosexuals growing up, they were “big”, strong, loud, touchy of men and unlady like.
In high school, Diana joined the drama club, the glee club, the Home Economics club and the exhibition team of volleyball (mostly girls). These groups and activities were usually confined among girls and effeminate boys. She started wearing make up and putting on cologne and powder in high school. She was fond of watching fashion shows aired on television and would copy the walk and poses of models. She would never miss any beauty pageants and imitate their opening spiels and answers. Her role models were Melanie Marquez, Margie Moran, Sushmita Sen and Miriam Quiambao. She eventually learned about beauty pageants staged in barangays for gays and transgenders. She was fascinated because she never thought that there are “gays” who could be so beautiful and be truly ladylike. “I wanted to be like them too,” Diana remembered. I approached some of them and started asking for tips on how to become like a woman and how to be beautiful. She learned that as they were born males, they have to take “pills” which actually are steroidal hormones (conjugated estrogen and progesterone) and have injections (also steroidal preparations). She learned too that if there is enough budget, one can undergo a surgical procedure wherein silicon can be implanted and also undergo SRS. This was what she learned earlier from the doctors in school. She is now able to validate that indeed she can look like a woman someday.
She went on to watch beauty pageants that summer. As she would buy clothes (with her mother), she will take control of the color and design always preferring feminine and soft palettes and designs. In high school, she also fell in love for the first time, Harry was not just any crush, she hoped that he would court (ligaw) her and have her as a girlfriend. But Diana was hesitant in making any move to get Harry’s attention believing that this is only done by gays and very aggressive girls. She learned that men will pursue women and make the first move. Diana recalled that she always excelled in English, Social studies and Science and was a devout Catholic. She sang in church every Sunday and would pray the rosary and St. Jude’s novena. She remembers praying for people to stop calling her “bakla”, for her to be liked by Harry and for her to be more womanly and ladylike. In college, she started feeling more sensitive about how people would tease her and call her “bakla”. She would frequently hear her relatives and family tell her to dress and act like a man.
Diana’s first boyfriend was a Canadian (23 year old then) who sees her as a woman. She felt truly like a woman in this relationship because he treated her with dignity and genuine love. Their relationship lasted for close to three years and it ended because Diana cannot yet move to Canada. In college and after graduating, Diana concentrated on looking for information about transsexualism and differentiating this from homosexuality since she has always been certain she is different from homosexuals. She however had many gay friends and could not determine if some of the cross dressing or cross gendering acquaintances are actually transsexuals. It was at this point that she felt that she could turn away from the Catholic church since she felt constricted by the church’s view of homosexuals and transgenders. She knew that she could maintain her existence without always asking for intervention from a powerful being and that we are in control of our own lives. She also encountered the realization that we determine our own fate and we can do good to others without relying on all the teachings of the church.
After graduation, Diana hurdled the challenges of looking for a good job in spite of her presentation as a woman yet she was rejected by at least twelve companies. She vowed to put up her own business. She went to Japan as an entertainer after having started to take hormones/HRT (at 19 while still studying, she got a tip from other transgenders that the best pills then were Diane-35 and Micropil as well as an IM administration of Depo Provera) and started to keep her hair long. She would wear women’s clothes in any occasion except for scheduled classes. She began to pluck her eyebrows and started wearing brassiere. She also began using a female name on all unofficial documents and transactions (she started using a female name Diana in grade school at the age of 8). In Japan she learned a lot of feminization and beautification procedures like whitening (Metathione) and hip expansion (helicon and synthetic fats). She decided to undergo FFS beginning with rhinoplasty followed by chin and cheeks augmentation and finally breast augmentation by means of silicon implants. She underwent orchioctomy (scrotum restructuring) when she was 24 in Thailand. All of her surgical operation was funded by her rich Japanese businessman boyfriend who also financed the establishment of her entertainment bar and restaurant as well as beauty parlor in Nagoya in 1999.
She underwent complete restructuring of her genitals when she was 26 also in Thailand and financed by her boyfriend as well. She is planning to file for legal name change in the Philippines so she can use her female name in all official documents and so she can truly live as a woman. She plans to marry her Japanese boyfriend who wants to marry her and adopt children for them to nurture. Her boyfriend is heterosexual and only sees her as a woman with different genitals. She plans to grow old with him and adopt children. Her biggest goal at this stage is to legalize her female name and remain as a woman. She is close to her family especially her father. Her business is very successful and she is planning to have a franchise or a branch here in the Philippines.