"Really? Tito X did that?" I asked.
Then my mom smirked and said, "You should probably call him Tita X."
This is where I get ticked off. I know that Tito X is just gay and not transgender. So I asked my mom if wore girl clothes and asked people to refer to him as a her. She shook her head and said no. "But he is the female in their relationship," she explained. To cut things short, it ended with my mother saying "Walang pagkakaiba 'yan. It doesn't matter."
I can't really blame her totally. In the Philippines, there is a very blurred line between being gay, transgender, and a cross dresser. This is probably because we only have two terms to describe them, bakla, commonly used for gays, transgender women, and drag queens, or tibo, commonly used for lesbians, transgender men, and female cross dressers. Proposing the reality that there are straight men who participate in drag races to an average Filipino would leave them utterly baffled and in the state of disbelief. Proposing the idea that feminine girls can be lesbians would confuse them. And what about those who are genderfluid?
So when do we use certain pronouns when dealing with members of the LGBT community? Let's make our lives easier by educating ourselves, shall we? Firstly, being gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, and asexual are not genders but sexualities, meaning they deal with what type of gender you are attracted to. Gender is whether the person identifies as female, male, or both. It's a lot easier to explain with the diagrams below.
When you say you're a cis male or cis female, this means that you identify with the gender you were born with. Gay men can be cis gender and so can lesbians. Pronouns used here would be the same pronouns we're normally accustomed with.
A trans woman is a woman who was born as a male but identifies as female. What draws the line between a transgender and a transsexual woman is that a transsexual woman has gone under surgery to complete her transition. Drag queens do not fall under the category of trans women because they are a type of entertainer. Straight men or any type of man could play as a drag queen. This goes the same for male cross dressers. To identify a transgender or transsexual woman, you could ask them yourself. But of course not all trans women would be so open. Pronouns used for trans women are she or her.
A trans man is a man who was born as a female but identifies as a male. The difference between a transgender and transsexual man is the same for a transgender and transsexual woman. They should not be confused with masculine women who like to dress in men's clothes or cross dressers. Also they are not just androgynous women. Pronouns used for trans men are he or him.
Gender fluid people can switch from being female to male whenever they want. Their gender identity varies over time and you should just ask them what they want to be called for that day.
Non-binary means that some people don't believe they can be just female or male but actually a mixture of both. Commonly used pronouns for non-binary people are them and they. Actually in England, Mx. is a gender honorific that can be used for gender neutrality instead of using Ms. or Mr. It has been slowly gaining acceptance since 2013.(x) Good job, England!
- Anna Cayco
illustrations by Anna Cayco