High fives for the Philippines!
The predominantly Catholic country, which had no openly LGBT national politicians, reached a milestone this week when Geraldine Roman became the first transgender woman to be elected to public office.
The 49-year-old, who's a member of the Liberal Party, won the lower house seat for Bataan province and will be serving a three-year-term in the house of representatives. Roman's mother previously held the seat.
During her campaign, Roman revealed her parents had always been supportive of her, and urged her to "remain confident" in the face of bullying.
Roman says she will attempt to abolish laws that are anti-LGBT.
"That somebody of my condition is going to enter congress for the first time is a statement that even transgender people can serve our country and should not be discriminated against," Roman told the AFP during her campaign.
It will be a tough fight.
In 2001, a law was passed that forbid transgender Filipinos to change their name and sex. In 2010, the Ang Ladiad party — which represents the LGBT community — was barred from contesting the polls and was accused of "immorality which offends religious beliefs."
However Roman, who transitioned in the '90s, refuses to be silenced. "I grew up here. People know me," she told the AFP. "(Gender) only becomes an issue when you try to keep it a secret. It's nothing bad. I never hurt anyone in the process. I'm so happy so why should I be ashamed?"
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