August 15, 2023 (7:17 PM)

5 min read

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For a university that banners itself as progressive, requiring a transgender student to submit a medical certificate to justify their gender identity manifests that within the interstices of the institution, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGIE) equality is far from respected.

With the reinstatement of the regular usage of uniforms, multiple transgender students approached the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) about the process of gaining a permit for entry into the campus to wear the uniform that aligns with their gender identity. All of them were informed that a medical certificate and a one-on-one conversation were necessary. (READ: Trans students cry foul over dress code policy)

AdDU has been known to be one of the few progressive schools in the city, with the university being one of the organizers of the recent Pride Month celebration in Davao City and one of the city’s first institutions to have all-gender restrooms. Even though it is not as liberated as the campuses of the University of the Philippines or its fellow Loyola School, Ateneo de Manila University, its progressive views front the race, at least in the city.

However, in this case, it seems like the patriarchal and conservative ideals of the University won over its progressive stance of fostering a safe community for its students, specifically gender minorities. The rules and regulations that were supposed to instill order in the institution have now subdued the best interests of its main stakeholders, the students. It is disappointing alone that a student has to ask permission to be comfortable in their own skin, but even more so when they have to prove their gender identity, notwithstanding its fluidity. 

Transitioning from one gender identity to another should not necessarily entail medicalization. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of transgender does not include medical procedures or physical features. It simply defines the term “transgender” as a person whose sex assigned at birth does not align with their gender identity. The idea that being transgender is something medical promotes the idea of transmedicalism, which according to GenderGP leads to an erroneous definition of being transgender. Meaning, each transgender person’s experience of transitioning is different from the other; thus, they must not be boxed in the criteria of being medically transitioned to be labeled as a transgender. 

The sheer fact that the University tried to define transgender students based on being medically transitioned because they don’t want them to change their minds about their gender identity lies a greater question of what underlying concerns the administration is wary about. Just like what Dr. Ej Sabado stated in the article, there is an intertwined range of issues that the University wants to avoid, such as the usage of restrooms for trans students. 

However, would it hurt to respect the preferences of its students and rather use this circumstance to bolster SOGIE-sensitive policies and education? Should it be at the expense of transgender students to solve their apprehensions when in the first place, it is grounded on misinformation and ignorance? 

It is high time for the University to abolish its SOGIE-restrictive policies, such as the uniform policy, and even to be open to the radical change of removing the uniforms altogether. In the same way as the SOGIE equality bill, this issue must be treated with urgency. The rights and recognition of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) have long faced hostility in the course of history. Retaining these policies will only curb the efforts of the long battles of resistance for queer rights in history and even of the student organizations in trumpeting the calls of LGBTQIA+. Additionally, if these microaggressions persist even when voices are amplified, it now becomes crucial to rethink the fundamental nature of dialogue in this institution. 

This situation must serve as a warning for the university and its administration how hypocritical they are to pride themselves as an inclusive and gender-sensitive institution. The University has been promoting humane humanity in its mission, yet invokes exclusionary policies that violate a person’s right to express themselves freely exist in the institution. 

In a University that is supposed to accept its students with open arms, it should be a secure haven of both academic and non-academic learning and not a place where they have to question themselves all over again about their gender identity. Let us bring back the safe space that Ateneo once was to our students from the LGBTQIA+ community, a space wherein they are free to be whoever they choose to be, where no office or organization can dictate how they present and express themselves.

This social situation in the University thus exhibits a microcosm of the social struggles in the country. The fight for SOGIE equality may still be far from over, but it has already come a long way. At least, in the spaces of our ‘progressive’ university, our students, no matter what gender identity, can be who they are unapologetically. 



End the silence of the gagged!

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