I cannot sleep. I am still bothered by a bad experience with the guards at a certain mall in ARCA South. I was harassed and emotionally disturbed. But more than this, I am bothered that at this day and age, there are still quite a number of things society does that doesn’t seem right or feel right with my sexuality. Being a Gen-Xer, I have been through all sorts of harassment, pressure, and prejudice because of my being gay. During then, you are either straight or gay – another label that do not seem right or fit for me.
I consider myself very effeminate but not into wearing female clothes. Maybe for the reason that I do not find myself having the right body for those (body image problem?), not wanting to make my life more complicated, or simply because those are not my fashion style. On the other hand, neither do I like to wear masculine clothes. Clothing wise, and in quite a number of things actually, I describe myself as unisexual, an effeminate unisexual. I like to keep my hair shoulder length though (I used to grow them long but thinning hair texture brought by age will not anymore permit) and, as of late, put on some make-up like eyebrow (recent recruit to the system), foundation (skin not as elastic and full of collagen anymore) and lip stain/gloss. I am attracted to straight males and do not see myself sexually attracted ever, and I repeat ever, to females and even straight-acting gay men.
After reading various articles on comprehensive gender assignation and making myself a bit more confused (but more relieved at the growing precision of gender classification/description), I believe I am classified as transgender less the operation and hormonal intervention. Then again I am doing this classification out of clarity more than trying to fit in any particular assignation for I fervently believe that in a number of decades more to come, when I am but a single speck of dust in the wind, gender will be as fluid as the waters that nourishes and sustains life.
So what bothers me at this point in my life when I am most accepting and more flexible to the qualms of humanity?
Almost every day I pass by malls where upon entering I needed to make a decision on whether to line in a “MALE” queue with a male guard manning it or a “FEMALE” queue with a lady guard on deck. The sight of this signage placed on top of this center table by the entrance always jolts me with certain uneasiness at the realization that at my age of 45 I am still not comfortable with either! Anatomically speaking, of course, I am male but everything else including my very soul revolts at this gender assignation at birth. Neither I am comfortable with trying to “force” myself into the female sanctuary just because I don’t feel I belong in the other. I think of myself as more female but not exactly. So trans is more apt but I cannot find an lgbtq queue where I can queue in all my fabulous splendor and not confront myself each day with either imagined (brought by a lifetime of prejudicial experiences) or realistic derisive or bemused look from those around me including the guard himself or herself.
So where do I queue? My accepting and subservient me hesitantly choses the male queue so that everything will be bright and rosy for everybody except me. How about the frisking? I am not comfortable with being frisk by male guards and would very much prefer lady guards to do them so I internally jolt at this intrusion.
Let us go back to this experience that made me do this article in the first place, my experience at this mall guards in ARCA South, Upper Bicutan, Taguig City.
Right after my morning gig at around 10:30 am I passed by this mall in order to buy some stuffs at the grocery. I entered lugging my make-up kit which should be opened flat or some expensive (pro make-up items are!) and very fragile stuff might fall. This can either be swift or time-consuming depending on the requirement of the guard either to open it full including all the compartment or a simple peek will do. I saw two male mall goers behind me so I went to the side of the lady guard. Immediately she dismisses me and pointed me to the other side. I maybe imagining it but I felt slighted that a simple security procedure need be spiced with all the nuances of rigid gender segregation as scripted by mall security authorities. My simple act of trying not to inconvenience others led to this unfortunate incidence that led me to think that I should have asserted my rights to choose the “to be understood as norm” lady guard side for female mall goers -which obviously I am not – as I am more comfortable being frisked by lady guards than male guards. Here is where the conflict ensues, me asserting my right to be frisked by a lady guard and the lady guard asserting that since I am biologically male, I should pass by the male security side.
I was slighted by this seeming insensitivity of the lady guard and moreso, though she told me later that she ordered me politely, by the overtures of sexist innuendo with those “polite” words. She made it clear that I am male and that I should go by the male side of the “unlabeled” table. Upon lifting once again my make-up bag and placing it once again on the side of the male guard for inspection I told her that she should be gender sensitive. This might have put in her mind that I am going to be a difficult one.
After I brought my stuff from the grocery with still this incident bugging my mind and pissing me off with increasing intensity every second I sauntered the grocery aisles, I made a resolve to go back to this lady guard (Well, I am really going back there as that is the only way to the tricycle terminal.) and confront her telling her more piece of my mind including the fact that the table is not even labeled “Male/Female”. This time I will be video documenting the whole exchange just to have a proof when worse comes to worst as I am alone at that time. However, upon seeing my phone lens directed at her face, she immediately became defensive. She tried to grab my phone and told me that I am not allowed to do that – video documenting the exchange that is. She rallied all the guards around her, paging them over the handheld radio to come and force me to delete the video. They tried to grab the phone off my hand, threatened me to delete the video and forced me to go submissively go to their security office.
As I was walking away from them, they held be by the arm, by the strap of my make-up bag, by the strap of my shoulder bag. I even gave them my make-up bag at one point as they are holding on to its straps like I was a criminal running away from the scene of the crime. At one point, one tall guard even showed the handcuffs he threatened to put on me lest I won’t submit. They mobbed me like a pride of lions about to pounce on a prey. They forced me despite my protestations and trying explanations that giving them a piece of my mind is not a threat to their mall security that merits this kind of treatment and that my phone is my private property nobody can get from me nor force me to delete anything from it. These reasoning and protestations fell on deaf ears of course as this lady guard is very ballistic herself seething with bigoted rage. Pounced and intimidated, I followed to the dungeon that is their office.
More confrontations happened inside this decrepit office full of vultures in uniform. Add to this is the sad fact that almost all of these security guards including their head are “kababayans”. Talk about loving your own. Anyways, I asked them what purpose do they rigidly require gender segregation at the door without indicating so. They told me for frisking purposes and that since most mall customers are Muslims, they need to strictly impose such. Now they are not only being sexist but religious separatist as well.
On the first reason, I told them I am not comfortable being frisked by a male guard and that this gender separation should cater to the protection of mall-going customers (not on their close-minded, ignorant and insensitive SOP) and should not be imposed solely on biological gender but on where the particular customer aligns herself or himself to be which again is the choice of the customer. Well, once again, their one-track mind cannot fathom this gender sensitivity dynamics most quality security agencies manning most urbanite establishments and institutions are well-informed and trained for and adamantly repeat their own discriminatory and ancient reasoning. What can you expect from chauvinists!
Before letting me go after reaching nothing, they required me to delete my video. This video again! Why are they so afraid of my video! If they just treated me right and addressed my suggestions properly, with or without video, they will not be put in bad light. Even me will not behave vehemently had they not attacked me aggressively at the onset and at the mere sight of me videoing them. If they provided proper grievance response to an aggrieve customer, then their proper decorum will be shown in the video and even earn them “pogi” points! I even threatened them that I will call my lawyer since I cannot fight for my rights by my lone self. At this point they pleaded even harder that I will be permitted to leave just delete the video! Wow how I would love to add illegal detention to your violations sir! But my gum is already bleeding due to hypertension and in order to cut all the bullshit short, I gave in. Since I know that I was not able to capture the exchange properly since they blocked the lens with their hands, I deleted the video. They made sure they saw me delete them. Then, to my relief, they let me be off.
But Google will not allow me to see the end of those inconvenience and emotional distress. It reminded me that I have videos and pictures automatically uploaded to the cloud. Lo and behold there sits this prematurely disrupted video I took showing how they aggressively impended me from capturing my fight for gender sensitivity. It is very short but this clip will give a glimpse of a lot more bullying that transpired.
Here is the very short clip I took, that the guards forcefully stopped me from taking, as I was approaching this lady guard I had a previous exchange with. I plan to take more of these videos in other more prominent malls and see how their security officers respond to or handle such situations. Will they be as overbearing and insensitive as this mall? Let’s see.
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/273136558″>Sunshine Mall Encounter With Gender Discriminating Lady Guard</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user55993489″>Rikki Suarez</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Very aggrieved, irritated, and violated, I could hardly muster my to voice my side as talking to this close-minded and gender insensitive guard on the way to their “dungeon” is like talking to a wall.
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/273136823″>Sunshine Mall Encounter With Gender Discriminating Lady Guard 2</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user55993489″>Rikki Suarez</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
At the end of it all, what this experience gave me, aside from disturbed tranquility of the mind, is a renewed insight at how it felt to fight for the gender I see myself to have and not what others impose on me as dictated by my birth gender. It woke me up from cruising about life without rocking the boat like I used to do. For so long I have threaded the more uncomplicated path – keeping my angst to myself and following social conventions – for mine and others peace. Now I have rekindled this flame of standing up for my sexuality against all odds not necessarily for myself but for those who have their self-worth robbed and trampled upon by discriminatory persons and institutions.
Looking at the bright, society has gone a long way since the time the principal who happened to be a priest too at my school told this 9 year old me that I am effeminate (I do not know what that word meant then) and that is not a good thing. That I should not play with this particular student because he is a bad influence and that I should try to change this behavior. Every year since then till high school graduation, I find myself inside the dean of discipline’s office pleading for my acceptance for the next school year on the basis of my being gay. Fast track to this present time and I cannot think of what will happen to this principal and school, with social media at a finger’s reach, if they do this very same abhorrent thing to their gay students. Only a modicum of bigots still remain to flourish despite all the achievements lgbtq activists have accomplished in educating humanity on gender equality and sensitivity. The fight for our basic rights meanwhile continues in order to make this world equally ours as it should be.