Is this making you uncomfortable?

Lyca Balita - Onwards

A naked woman was found dead, her head in a toilet, in 2014. A man was found dead, a wooden stick in his genitals, in 2021. In between these two deaths, there have been dozens of similar deaths and hundreds of similar assaults in the Philippines alone. Prior to 2014, who knows how many more? Does this make you uncomfortable? A negative answer would be strange; violent deaths are inherently unsettling in the first place. But if I told you that what these deaths had in common is that they all involved transgender men and women as victims, would the stories still bring the same discomfort?

June 1 marks the beginning of Pride month. Contrary to superficial observers, pride is a protest, not just a month where corporations can profit off the LGBT+ community by slapping rainbows on their products. “What is there to protest? Your people are accepted now.” Stories like these are what we protest: the vicious murders, rapes, and discrimination of human beings. You don’t rape, beat, and kill the people you accept. You can’t pick whom among us to accept, then kill the others.

Many come across stories about the community, and they feel uncomfortable and switch to a different, more “conventional” story. It’s interesting—they don’t like the LGBT+ community because it’s an uncomfortable topic, usually based on personal beliefs. Meanwhile, we from the LGBT+ community don’t like bigots because the latter murder, rape, and abuse our brothers and sisters, if not us directly. How proportionate—personal discomfort due to opinions, versus actual physical violence. Suddenly, human dignity is not universal, and minor discomfort is worth hundreds of lives.

Discrimination is not always violent, but it’s always evident. The more low-key, and sometimes unintentional: the disdainful stares in church, the threatening glares in restrooms, and the blatant alienation in big groups. The more harmful and more common: kicking out of the house, constructive dismissal by employers, and withdrawal of financial support from families. Some of the worst, which are more common than most assume, include sexual abuse, bloody beatings, mutilation, and violent murders done out of hate and prejudice. Sexual abuse is very common; I personally know four lesbians, two of them masculine, who have been raped by straight, cisgender men who knew the women’s sexuality. In what world is that okay?

The manifestations of homophobia and transphobia are ridiculous. Bigots can easily refer to Marlou as Xander Ford, but somehow magically struggle to say Jake Zyrus and would rather insist on dead names. How subtle. Here’s another: many refuse to allow trans women to use women’s restrooms because they fear that men would take advantage of this and violate women’s privacy. But based on the reasoning, the problem was never with the LGBT+ community. The fear was always because of cisgender straight men, who are outside the community. Why do trans women have to take the brunt for bigots’ perverted tendencies?

Personally, I’ve experienced being referred to as “it” because I have short hair, because somehow that made me less human. I’ve experienced attempted assaults because I’m very obviously a lesbian. I’ve sat through classes where professors have proclaimed to the whole class that people like me live “dishonorable lives” and are “abominations” who will burn in hell, while everyone just stayed silent and stole entertained glances to see how I’d react.

All these —the discrimination, abuses, rapes, and murders just because of discomfort based on bigoted beliefs. Then in an attempt to justify all these, the religious arguments come in, when religion was never the topic in the first place. The issue was always centered on deserving basic human decency. Should trans men and women be killed? Should lesbians be raped? Should gay men be mutilated? These and similar questions were the actual issues. In a humane world, the answer should always have been no. It was never a religious debate.

Minor discomfort should never be worth hundreds of lives. To stand back and propagate bigoted beliefs is to tolerate these abuses, rapes, and murders. Again: a naked woman was found dead, her head in a toilet, in 2014; a man was found dead, a wooden stick in his genitals, in 2021. And these are just two of the thousands of deaths all over the world. To stay silent is to be complicit. To be okay with that is inhumane and selfish and hypocritical.

Is this article making you uncomfortable? Hey, lucky you, at least you’re still alive. While you sit uncomfortably because of our existence, my brothers and sisters are beaten, raped, and killed everyday because of that discomfort. Maybe when a belief results in violations of human rights, maybe the problem is with the belief, not the victims. Maybe a logical, humane, and impartial reflection on those beliefs is in order. This is why Pride is a necessary protest. Your discomfort is not worth these lives. Cruel murders and abuses should be infinitely more disturbing than seeing two men holding hands.

For feedback, send an e-mail to lyca.balita@gmail.com

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