I am a non-op trans woman from the Philippines. Meaning I am a trans woman who prefers not to get rid of my male genitalia that were assigned to me at birth, by undergoing Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS), but clearly this has nothing to do with my gender identity. Because in my heart, in my soul, and in my mind I am a woman and I identify myself as such.
I am a transgender woman who loves going to the gym, to stay fit and healthy, like any typical woman who wants to take care of her body. So I walked into Fitness First, a fitness center located in Ayala Mall Cebu, Philippines. I was greeted with enthusiastic smile and was welcomed warmly. Few minutes later, a very kind and accommodating woman gave me a tour through the whole place and that includes the shower and the locker room for the ladies. I walked into the room and nothing was unusual, nothing was different and I know I belong to this room. The ladies were smiling at me and I had a very positive energy towards this community! Kudos to the employees, they were very nice, perhaps they wanted to make a sale. We ended the tour and went back to the receiving area so she can tell me about the membership and their programs! I got a fair deal and so I decided to sign up! She asked for my ID, and I started filling out the forms. I know that she had already an idea about my gender identity upon looking at my ID, but I felt she was hesitant to confront me. Until the time that we discussed my access card to the gym. She absolutely did not know what to do at first, she wanted me to sign up but was afraid with the rules and regulations of the said fitness center, which I totally understand. She excused herself to seek advise from the girl who welcomed me first and then they both sat and talked to me. The other girl asked me
Girl 1 (from the receiving area) : “Have you already done your operation? ”
I was quiet for a few seconds and wondered “why do you ask?” but opted not to speak my thought because I do not want to be rude, and the I replied with a lie.
Me: “Yes I did”
Girl 1: “Do you have a certificate of your operation?”
Now I started to be uneasy and my heart was already pumping so fast, so I told them the truth.
Me: “Well no I have not done the bottom surgery. “
I was feeling so uncomfortable being asked with these questions where in fact I just want to use their facility! Then the girl who gave me a tour (Girl 2) reasoned out.
Girl2 : “There are other members who complain when people like you are in the women’s locker room.”
Me: “So meaning if I sign up I need to go to the men’s locker and shower room?”
Girl 2: “Yes that is correct! And if you had your operation done, then it is okay to be in the females quarter.”
And there I saw myself caught in the most humiliating, discriminating, unacceptable, inhumane, unfair, injustice situation I have ever encountered in my life. Now I know that when I need to go to this gym and use the female’s locker room, I need to have a vagina. I was just there giving them fake smiles to them and do not know what to say. Girl 2 went to talk to the manager and I said to myself “I just want to get out from this place”. I believe if you care for your customers, a manager would promptly talk to you directly and explain, but I saw no manager, clearly they do not welcome transgender women. Though I am giving them the benefit of the doubt, possibly they are innocent of my existence as a transgender woman and the rest of my community!
I wish this situation will be an eye opener for them to treat every customer equally regardless of their gender! We maybe a third world country but this should not stop us from being open minded. I should not be stopped from having a healthy lifestyle, just because I still have not undergone SRS.