In celebration of the International Day of Transgender Visibility, transgender leaders from different communities all over the Philippine are uniting to form a national network of transgender groups and individuals called LakanBini Advocates Pilipinas.
The network is being launched today March 31, 2016 at the Madrid Function Room of the Berjaya Makati Hotel. The network, which derives its name from the words “Lakan” (nobleman) and “Binibini” (lady), aims to become a nationwide community of transgender leaders and advocates that serves as a voice for transled advocacies on equality and access to health, well-being, and human rights services. It is composed of 16 organizations from Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Zamboanga Peninsula.
“I came from a city where a Comprehensive LGBT Code has just been passed into ordinance and what I would like to see is that equal access to services and protection against discrimination is not only enjoyed in selected cities but also all over the country,” says Salma Cortes, LakanBini Chairperson. Marie Isabelle Eguia, LakanBini Secretary, added “we would like to see transgender people from the provinces having the recognition and acceptance as those from Manila (and other cities).”
With the main message “Kasali ang mga ‘trans’ sa pagbabago,” Lakanbini is led by the network’s eight (8) Trustees from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao who belong to different organizations and represent transgender men, transgender women and transgender youth.
“It is easier for the society to accept the transgender identity if they know that we are fighting and advocating for their rights as well,” notes Yesha Legaspi Tolentino, Network Coordinator. She further added, “everybody deserves a full, productive, and dignified life.” “That’s why, we would not only make ourselves visible, but we would get involved in various activities that will bring change to our transgender fellows, respective communities, and to our country,” added AR Arcon, transman board member.
Tanya Laguing, LakanBini Vice-Chairperson for Luzon, further added, “through our knowledge, skills, and experience in addressing issues, especially as regards sexuality and reproductive health, we would be able to send across our desire to be one with the larger population and break the stigma, misconception, and discrimination towards transgender people.”
The LakanBini Advocates Pilipinas is supported by the Philippine NGO Council on Population, Health and Welfare, Inc. and LoveYourself, Inc. under the ISEAN-Hivos Program the Global Fund Against AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (GFATM) Round 10. The program is entitled “Strengthening Community Systems to Reduce Vulnerability to and Impact of HIV infection on MSM and TG in the Islands of Southeast Asia.”