Samal resort accused of discrimination and bad service

Isla Reta Beach Resort in Santa Cruz, Samal Island. (Isla Reta Beach Resort)

A resort in Santa Cruz, Talikud Island, Isla Reta Beach Resort, is under fire after a transgender woman guest, Shannon Remotigue Gonzaga, said she experienced discrimination and rude treatment last 8 May at the establishment in the island city of Samal, Davao del Norte.

Gonzaga related her experience in her Facebook post in Cebuano on 10 May.

“Before pa lang ko mo sulod gi harang nko. ‘Pikas daw’…okay wala nko nakipag lalis ni silip ko kadali sa Men’s room kung mingaw buh, Hasta man pod ka daghan lalake naka Topless lang nag shower, so dili jud makaya ma taha ko, ug mataha pod sila sa akoa kay ses! lugwa kaayo akong cleavage. Nag decide nalang ko na hulaton ma mingaw ang Female’s bathroom bahalag gi tugnaw nakog hinulat kay gusto nko mamanlaw ka ihion napod ko.

“(Before I even entered, I was already blocked. ‘Other room.’ Okay, I didn’t argue anymore. I peeked into the men’s room if it was empty, but there were a lot of topless men showering. I couldn’t dare join them because I didn’t want to embarrass myself and I didn’t want them to feel uncomfortable also because, sis, my cleavage was pouring out. I decided to wait for the female’s bathroom to empty out even if I felt cold and I really needed to pee),” Gonzaga wrote.

Shannon Remotigue Gonzaga alleges a resort of discrimination. ( FB/ Shannon Remotigue Gonzaga

Transgender woman)

“Nag silip ko kadali luckily nakita nko akong Tita ug isa nko ka babae na friend so naki sabay nalang kog shower and then niabot tong babae attendant, excuse me ‘BAWAL KA DIRI, PIKAS KA,’ so ni approach kog tarong sa iyaha,

‘Te mag shower lang ko teh, kay mataha jud ko sa pikas daghan kaayo lalake tas mataha pod sila sa akoa, then ni tubag pod siya’ ‘Ai DILI SA PIKAS KA KAY GAY KA’ (grabe ka mga homophobic”), so ako nag educate ko gamay sa iyaha, ante dili ko Gay trans ko, nag take ko hormones since 18 pako, wala ko nag insist sa iyaha na BABAE ko na dapat allow ko sa Female’s Bathroom, kutob rapod ko sa shower.

“(I quickly peeked. Luckily, I saw my aunt and a female friend, so I joined them in the shower and then a female attendant arrived. ‘Excuse me. You’re not allowed here. You should be in the other bathroom. So I approached her properly. ‘Ate, I’ll just take a shower because I feel uncomfortable in the other bathroom and the men might feel uncomfortable with me there, too. ‘No. You should be in the other room because you’re gay (So homophobic). So I gave her a little bit of education. ‘Ate, I’m not gay. I’m trans. I’ve been taking hormones since I was 18.’ I didn’t insist to her that I am a woman who should be allowed in the women’s bathroom. I was only in the shower area).”

“Wala nalang nko siya gi tubayan pa kay samokan nko, then nag start na syag Lecture2x sa akoa, ai Pag transgender dapat operada nadaw ko sa ubos, ni bagting na akoang ulo, daghan pag yaw2x so wala ka antos akoang tita ni intervene na “Gang okay lang akoa na pamangkin..” oh operada na sya gang..” para mo hunong lang tong attendant, wala pajud siya na human…

“Kung transgender ka! kung operada nka, maka gamit ka sa amoa CR,” then ni tubag ko, “HALA INGANI MO APPROACH SA AMOA???? SO MEANING, IF EVER MAKI SHOWER ME MGA TRANS SA INYUHA CR KAILANGAN PA NAMO IPAKITA AMOA PRIVATE PART PARA LANG MA PROVE NA OPERADA NAME”?

PARA MAKA GAMIT me ana teh? and wala sya ka tingog, sa akoang pagka disappointed ni walk out nko na naa pay balas na bilin sako lawas and sa tent nalang ko nag ilis, and wala pa sya nahuman nakig lalis pa sya sa akao ante, naa ba daw ko video na as in naa ba daw koy BAJAYNA..(ka bastos diba?, naka menos!)

“(I didn’t want to deal with her because I didn’t want any more trouble, but then she started lecturing me: ‘If you’re a transgender, your lower parts should have been operated on already.’ My head spun. My aunt couldn’t hold it any longer and intervened, ‘Dear, it’s OK. She’s my niece. And she’s been operated on, dear.’ But the female attendant wasn’t finished yet. ‘If you’re transgender. If you’ve been operated on already, you can use our CR.’ I replied, ‘Oh, so this how you approach us? So, meaning, if ever a trans person will take a shower in your CR, we have to show you our private parts to prove to you that we’ve had gender reassignment surgery so we could use you CR, ate?’ She couldn’t reply. In my disappointment, I walked out even if there were still sand all over my body. I changed to fresh clothes in our tent. She still argued with my aunt, asking if I have a video that proves I have a vagina (so rude and condescending),” she further related.

“Pag human nkog ilis niadto ko sa ilahang pina ka upper na management para e share akoa complain kung unsa ka bastos ilaha attendant the way mag approach sa akoa, kay totally embarrased kaayo ko sa atubangan sako ante, sako friend ug sa isa ka guest. So didto nakig estorya kog tarong very professional kaayo ko nag share, “SIR! embarrased kaayo ko sa inyuhang staff the way mag approach, akoa lang man nangayo kog gamay consideration kay gusto lang ko mamanlaw pero daghan paa kaayo siyag estoraya na burag siya pay naay alam sako pagka tao, and nag expect ko na akoang complain mag favor sa akoa na samotan na noon ko!

“AI BAWAL TALAGA! KAY GAY KA! (TATANAAaaaan Double kill! ka homophobic) kay daghan na daw nag complain pod mga bababe, and then ana ko, “SIR DILI ISSUE SA AKOA ANG BATHROOM USE, ANG ISSUE SIR IS! EMBARRASED KAAYO KO THE WAY MAG APPROACH INYUHANG STAFF! ni hangyo lang ko mag shower lang ko (naa sa gawas ang shower wala sulod), then ana sya “AW SORRY!”… Dili nko ma feel ang sincerity sa applogy! so nag educate ko gamay, “Sir! dili ko gay, I’m a transgender, wala pod ko nag insist na babae ko, akoa lang sir gamay konsideration lang,.. shower lang! …reply nya sa akoa, “Transgender ka? so pasabot ba daw operada nko? kay kung operada na daw ko below allow nko mo use sa ilaha bathroom, tubag napod ko.

So mao na inyuhang Policy! in order maka gamit me sa inyuhang CR sir? kailangan namo mag pagkita sa private part na naa name “BaJAYNA”? As a transgender sir dili man required na dapat operada ka, identity mana as a gender (Mas nahulog sya pay mas daghan alam) “AI SORRY BASTA BAWAL KAYO”. Wala nya gi tubag akoa question.

“(After I changed into fresh clothes, I went to the upper management to share my complaint on how rude the attendant was in her approach to me, because I was totally embarrassed in front of my aunt, my friend and another guest. So I told my story in a very professional way, “Sir! I was so embarrassed by the way your staff approached me.

I was only asking for a little consideration because I wanted to shower but she had plenty to say about me as if she knows more about my whole being. I was expecting a favorable response to my complaint but I got a worse response. “It’s really not allowed! Because you’re gay!”

(Tantanaan! Double kill. So homophobic!) He said there were several complaints from women. I said, “Sir! It’s not an issue for me about the bathroom use. The issue, sir, is I was embarrassed because of the way your staff approached me! I only asked to take a shower” (the shower area was outside, not inside).

Then he said, “Oh, sorry!”… I couldn’t feel the sincerity of his apology. So I educated him lightly. ‘Sir! I’m not gay; I’m transgender. I also didn’t insist that I was a woman. I only asked for a little consideration, sir.

Just to take a shower! He replied, ‘You’re a transgender? So does that mean I’m operada? Because if I’ve had gender reassignment surgery, I’m allowed to use their bathroom.

I responded, ‘So, that’s your policy! In order for me to use your CR, sir, I should show you my private parts o prove that I already have a vagina? As a transgender, sir, it isn’t required that you’ve had surgery, it’s a gender identity.

(He acts as if he knew more than me). ‘I’m sorry but you’re not allowed.’ He didn’t even reply to my question).”

According to local newspaper SunStar Davao, Samal councilor Gie-arr Requina Valdez posted in his Facebook page that the resort also had a complaint before the Gonzaga incident and he said he is raising the matter to the city council.

Gonzaga’s post went viral, and many people criticized Isla Reta’s actions.

Isla Reta Beach Resort’s response

On 12 May, Isla Reta released a statement saying that “women guests have been complaining to the management that they do not feel safe and/or are uncomfortable with transgender [women] and even vulnerable using the shower room with them.” They also said that “it has become management’s policy not to allow transgenders to use the female shower room.”

“The management has no facility yet to cater to the transgender [persons’] demand for a separate shower room,” they explained. “We are clarifying that we are not homophobic or transphobic and that all the members of the LGBTQ+ are welcome but please respect the management’s policy on using the shower rooms and CR as we have to consider and protect other guests, particularly the women’s rights and privacy,” the resort management ended.

LGBTQ+ groups’ statements

Many LGBTQ+ groups were dismayed and outraged by the incident, condemning the bad treatment and “discriminatory policy.”

A group of Mindanao-based organizations emphasized that “ang pagpamanlaw walay gi-ilang pagkatawo (rinsing or washing knows no identity).”

They said that the resort’s statement “does not address the root cause of the issue which is the lack of awareness on SOGIESC but rather, it further reinforces ignorance and gender-based discrimination against sexual and gender minorities like the Transgender community.”

“Moreover, rinsing or washing is a normal act of hygiene. In the context of Covid-19, washing is a vital preventive measure in the fight against the pandemic which everyone should be able to do regardless of gender and sexuality,” they further said.

The group, composed of Mindanao Pride, Kagay-an Preserving Life, Uniting Society, Mujer-LGBT Zamboanga, Olympus Society of Davao, and Tahud PH from Caraga, called on the House of Representative to the pass the SOGIESC Equality Bill “to prevent various economic and public accommodation-related acts of discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression” and also the Department of Tourism (DoT) “to strengthen their Gender and Development (GAD) programs and mechanisms to respond to these gender issues in the tourism sector.”

Another Mindanao-based group, Mentefuwaley, the LGBTQ+ student organization of University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao in General Santos City, also condemned Isla Reta Beach Resort and its statement which they described as “mapang-api, marahas at walang basehan (oppressive, cruel and baseless).”

“Ang mga polisya at pahayag na ito ng resort ay isang malinaw na porma ng diskriminasiyon na nakaugat sa mapoot at mala-siglong katandaan na pag-iisip. Hindi ang kakulangan sa pasilidad ang pumipigil sa mga LGBTQIA+ na makatanggap ng pangunahing serbisiyo kundi ang kakulangan sa kaalaman at bukas na isipan na umunawa sa dibersidad ng uring pangkasarian (The resort’s policies and statement are clear forms of discrimination rooted in hateful and centuries-old thinking. It is not the lack of facility that obstruct LGBTQIA+ persons from availing primary services but the lack of knowledge and open mind to understand the diversity of gender),” they asserted.

“Patunay lamang ito na dapat mas palawakin pa ang pagbibigay kaalaman patungkol sa SOGIESC at mas paigtingin pa ang kampanya sa pagpapapasa sa isang batas na magproprotekta at magbibigay ng pantay na karapatan sa mga LGBTQIA+ ( This is proof that there is a need to further the dissemination of information on SOGIESC and to intensify the campaign for the passing of a law to protect and to give equal rights to LGBTQIA+ persons).”

The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP) also released their own statement: “Hindi po lalaki ang mga transpinay, babae rin po kami at higit sa lahat, tao na may kakayahang kumilos nang maayos at matuwid (Transpinays are not men, but we are women and most importantly we are human who can act properly and right).”

“Nararapat na kilalanin ng kanilang pamunuan ang aming pagkatao. Hindi nila kami maaaring itaboy nang lantaran (It is only right that they (resort management) should know who we are. They just can’t blatantly drive us away),” the pioneering group of transgender women said, which called for an investigation and the passing of the SOGIESC Equality Bill.

“Malinaw na kaso ito ng transphobia at transmisogyny (This is a clear case of transphobia and transmisogyny),” they added.

“Hindi na natin maaaring payagan na paulit-ulit itong maganap araw-araw, lalo na sa mga transpinay (We cannot let this happen repeatedly, everyday, especially to transpinay).”

Meanwhile, several groups emphasized that “[a]side from it being an act of gender-based discrimination, it violates a person’s basic rights and dignity.”

“Insisting that any person, regardless of SOGIE, show their genitals before allowing them to use any facility can never be valid. Furthermore, this is in direct violation of the Safe Spaces Act, which prohibits gender-based and sexual harassment in public spaces, an act of violence that the trans community has endured for so long,” they said in their statement.

“Even without an anti-discrimination law, private establishments cannot impose discriminatory policies that effectively enable gender-based sexual harassment. Under the Safe Spaces Act, privately-owned places open to the public, including resorts, are required to adopt a zero tolerance policy against sexual harassment and to create a safe gender-sensitive environment for victims of gender-based sexual harassment. Instead of creating a safe space, Isla Reta Resort assisted this incident of harassment.”

The statement was signed by Lagablab LGBT Network, Babaylanes, UP Babaylan, Rainbow Rights, Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) Filipinas, LakanBini Advocates Pilipinas, LGBTS Christian Church Philippines, LGBTQ Plus Party-list, Pioneer Filipino Transgender Men Movement, Philippine Anti-Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders, Transman Equality and Awareness Movement, Cebu United Rainbow LGBT Sector, Gayon Albay LGBT Organization, Outrage Magazine, Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Safezone of CIIT College of Arts and Technology, Polytechnic University of the Philippines Kasarianlan, TLF Share Collective, Iloilo Pride Team, Metro Manila Pride, STRAP, Mujer-LGBT Organization, Ladlad Partylist, Equality Philippines, Side B Philippines, Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, TransDeaf Philippines, CARE (Center for HIV and AIDS Responses), Mindanao Pride, Empress of Mindanao State University, ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, UP Los Banos Babaylan, Transman of Sibugay and Galang Philippines.

DoT to conduct investigation

The DoT released a statement on 13 May, saying that they will be conducting an investigation.

“The DoT is an advocate of gender equality and mainstreaming, and does not tolerate any form of gender-based harassment nor discrimination in its systems, structures, policies, programs, and processes,” the government department further said.

“We enjoin the entire tourism industry to abide by our national laws on Gender and Development.”

However, there is still no national law protecting LGBTQ+ persons from abuse and discrimination. The SOGIESC Equality Bill has been languishing in legislation, becoming the longest bill in interpellation.

The LGBTQ+ community has been clamoring for its passage for a long time.

mje

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Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph

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