The unfortunate case of the transgender woman who was harassed by a janitor then detained by police in Quezon City earlier this month when she tried to use the female comfort room at a mall has sparked a debate on a bill that seeks to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The transgender woman, Gretchen Diez, 28, was barred by a female janitor from using the women's comfort room at the Farmers Plaza. When she protested, the janitor dragged her to the mall’s security office and started shouting at her when Diez tried to capture her experience on her phone.
Diez recounts the janitor told her she wanted to slap her in the face because she was gay.
Police later handcuffed Diez and brought her to the Quezon City Police District Station 7, where she awaited the filing of a complaint by the janitor. But at about 11:30 p.m., the police released Diez after the janitor dropped the case and even sent her a letter of apology.
In the wake of Diez’s ordeal, public attention became focused on the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) equality bill, which seeks to protect members of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community from all forms discrimination, including giving them the right to use the restroom of their choice.
Politicians soon jumped on the politically correct SOGIE bandwagon, seeking to curry favor with the LGBT community.
One opinion writer, citing hate crime statistics from the United States, said it was perfectly acceptable for gays to opt to use the women’s restroom for fear of being assaulted in the men’s room.
“So for those… women who feel uncomfortable by the presence of trans women in women's public toilets, I am sorry to inform you that the safety and security of trans women are more important than your comfort,” she wrote.
When the rights of one group are deemed less important than the rights of another, is that not simply another form of discrimination?
If we are to allow gays and lesbians to use whichever restroom they wish, would we do the same for the bisexual among us? Logic suggests we should, but prudence might say otherwise.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III got it right when he said the choice of which restroom to use is really a biological question. How a person is equipped should determine where he or she goes to get relief.
Moreover, he said, the claim among some transgender women that they are vulnerable to assault in men’s restrooms is unfounded.
He also correctly points out that in the pursuit of LGBT rights, we need to give women’s rights due consideration and protection.
It is easy to get caught up in the suffering that Diez so unjustly experienced, and to want to be politically correct, but this one well-publicized case shouldn’t blind us to the implications of an ill-considered law.