Kaye, 34, Manila > Amsterdam.
“Not all girls and women were assigned female at birth. You can do it. You are unique. You are not alone”. These are the words that Kaye would love to say to her younger self to get through the hard times she would experience.
This month’s Out & Proud story is from Kaye.
“I knew at the age of 3 that I was female. I didn’t know about the concept of ‘coming out’ when I was younger. That was a western concept. For me, I just always knew that I was female”.
Growing up was not easy for Kaye. Bruised, badly treated and not accepted by her parents she went to live with her grandmother in Masbate at the age of 7. “I lived with my grandmother till she passed away when I was 16. She was my hero, my inspiration. This ring I wear now, she gave to me… is my constant reminder that she is always with me”.
“Not all girls and women were assigned female at birth. You can do it. You are unique. You are not alone”
Life became difficult again after her grandmother passed away, as she went to live with an aunt in Manila who did not treat her well and treated her as a cleaner. It was only at the age of 19 that she met similar people as she worked in a hair salon with other queer / transwomen. “They were people who were disowned by their families, but together we became a family”. It was whilst working at the salon that she found her inner voice and started her advocacy work to help others. In 2006 she joined STrAP. Manila based Society of Transsexual Women Advocate of the Philippines. She began to attend conferences in the Netherlands and this was the time when she met her first Dutch boyfriend. After a 4 year long distant relationship, she moved to NL. But it ended a year later.
With her second boyfriend here came the real drama and trauma. He was extremely physically abusive and would lock her up inside the apartment for a week. Her repeated visits to the police station were ignored. She was rejected from women’s shelter in Alkmaar because in her Philippines passport stated she was ‘male’. Note: Philippines has no gender recognition law.
Forced to live on the street and find refuge under bridges at night. “They used the laws from the Philippines against me”. She had no choice but to keep returning to her ex, despite his open admittance that he wanted to kill her. On one evening her (ex) boyfriend had beaten her up so badly she was barely recognisable. Enough was enough when he beat and tazed her with a tazer gun. She ran to the police and never returned. She feared for her life.
Luckily she had 2 friends in Amsterdam who were her guardian angels. She moved in with them and lived with them for 2 years. She also received help from the organisation: Pinay sa Holland. Kaye was the first trans women invited and accepted as a member by the organisation.
Kaye now lives with her (new) boyfriend in Gouda. 10 months living together, they’re happy and settled. They’re looking to purchase their first home together this year.
She dreams to continue her gender studies and to continue her Human Rights advocacy work to help trans migrants, sex workers, women of colour, undocumented Filipinos and to help people find their voice. But her biggest dream is to receive her Dutch passport with female status. “This will be like a stamp to living authentic self without the need to explain myself to others”.
There are so many Trans people who are discriminated by society but also by the gay and lesbian community. So much so that there almost 30% of transgender females have admitted to attempting suicide*. Kaye is an amazing person, strong, beautiful and an advocate to help others. It is for this reason I want to end this story with her own words to herself and others: “Not all girls and women were assigned female at birth. You can do it. You are unique. You are not alone”.
Author: Ryan Aquino, Out&Proud Committee
* – http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/142/4/e20174218?sso=1&sso_redirect_count=1&nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token