Last 2017 the conversation about the SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression) Bill arose social media, tearing public opinion towards two different sides. The anti-discrimination bill was passed by the Philippine 17th Congress on its third and final reading on September 20 with a vote of 197-0 in the House of Representatives. On August 8, 2018, the Chief of Human Rights backed the passage of the bill through a position paper despite a tug-o-war in the Senate. Finally, in 2019, the anti-discrimination bill was due for passage after 3 years of back and forth.
But, despite these legalities and the back and forth in revisions, what really is SOGIE? How is the Filipino affected? And since when did the conversation for SOGIE start? Well, Daddy Romano, your flagship Philippine mangrooming partner delivering all your below-the-belt mangrooming kits for your complete #AlagangRomano experience, is here to break it down for you.
Where and when it started
Contrary to popular belief, the SOGIE conversation both in social media and the senate didn’t start booming since 2016. The earliest version of the SOGIE equality bill was filed by the late senator Miriam Defensor Santiago last 2000 together with former Akbayan representative Loretta Rosales under the 11th Philippine Congress. However, the bill was only able to reach committee level, despite other key people filing similar bills in the 15th congress.
The SOGIE Bill was continuously brought up in conversation the coming years after multiple incidents of LGBTQIA+ communities facing injustices, some examples of which are the case of the Ang Ladlad (a partylist which aimed to represent the LGBTQIA+ community in the 2010 elections) which was denied rights by the Comelec citing “immorality” as basis. Then the controversial 2014 murder of Trans woman Jennifer Laude by a US Marine on October. Then the 2016 election campaign which a politician remarked same-sex couples as “mas masahol pa sa hayop.”
These circumstances continuously provoked different communities both in the LGBTQIA+ sector, human rights, and other impact-centric advocacy and non-profit movements to bring back the SOGIE conversation and compel the government to pass a bill that prevents injustices on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. Enter the SOGIE Bill.
The Meaning of SOGIE and it’s limits
SOGIE means Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression.
Sexual Orientation describes to whom a person is sexually attracted, that is, some people are attracted to people of a particular gender, and others are attracted to people of more than one gender, and some are not attracted to anyone. These sexual orientation can range from being asexual, bisexual, gay, lesbian, pansexual, questioning, queer, straight, non-binary, and other orientations in the spectrum.
Gender identity and expression on the other hand describes the ways a person identified and/or expressed their gender including but not limited to self-image, appearance, and embodiment of gender roles. It’s mandated that one’s sex is “usually” assigned at birth based on one’s physical biology. Gender, on the other hand, is one’s internal sense of self and identity. Gender expression however, is how one embodies their gender attributes, for example, feminine, masculine, androgynous, etc.
All members of society, both straight, asexual, bisexual, gay, lesbian, pansexual, questioning, queer, non-binary, and other orientations have SOGIE; meaning to say, contrary to popular belief, SOGIE does not limit its protection towards just the LGBTQIA+ community. In fact, the SOGIE Bill protects everyone and anyone to from injustices on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression on all sectors, environments, and settings.
In line with this, the SOGIE bill also strengthens free-speech since it allows anyone and everyone to maximize gender identity and expression. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if you’re straight or queer, you’re protected by the SOGIE bill from injustices.
A Be Careful Warning to not quickly Label
Though the SOGIE Bill strengthens the expression of one’s self, Dr. Alok Kanojia, co-founder and American psychiatrist of the mental health coaching company Health Gamer GG, gives a quick warning on gender identity and sexuality.
In one of Dr. Alok’s video on their Healthy Gamer GG channel, titled: What To Do If Your Parents Don’t Accept You—created as a response to a member of their community who recently outed from the closet to their parents—Dr. Alok remarks being careful to jumping into SOGIE labels for a number of reasons.
“Especially if you’re trans, you have to be careful to jumping into labels for a number of reasons. Gender equality and even sexuality tend to take time to form. I’ve worked with some trans people who knew from a very young age that their gender identity was not their biological identity and that it was set in stone, they were just born on another body.” Said Dr. Alok Kanojia.
Dr. Alok also adds that there is also danger in jumping into labels in the years where the SOGIE is just starting to form, and not yet solidify.
“The teenage years, adolescence, and young adult hood is a big part of discovering who we are. One of the things that I think happens way too often is we try to jump to labels to capture our experience.” Dr. Alok adds.
To conclude, Dr. Alok cites an example on the danger of assigning labels just because of a shift in SOGIE, citing the instance below.
“For example, someone starts to be sexually attracted to the same gender, they may be terrified that they’re actually homosexual, jump to the conclusion that they’re homosexual, they assign themselves a label because it helps them organize their life some. And then later on, they might discover actually that they’re bisexual or pansexual. So this is something that I think is actually kind of a problem is that, we jump to labels too quickly.”
Meaning to say, though the SOGIE Bill protects anyone who has sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression from injustices on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression, we still have to not quickly jump into the labels that confine that which is meant to be fluid.
Our individual SOGIE is still part of the spectrum, and at any point in our life, a Eureka moment may strike and an epiphany can cause us to develop a liking (either romantic or sexual) towards another human being. With the development of those new feelings, also comes a personal development and growth of your identity. You become awakened by an epiphany that you are capable of love and romance with people in so many new ways, and you live in a society where you are free to act on those feelings—to tell, and express, to the people that you love that you love them.
How beautiful is it that in that moment, even though your SOGIE shifts; and your sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression suddenly changes, you’re still protected by the society you know and love from injustices, no matter what happens? That you’re legally protected by the Constitution to express who you are, love who you care for, and be who you’re meant to be.
So the next time the SOGIE conversation is brought up, you know what to say. And as we say in the #AlagangRomano club, if something’s morally wrong, call your homie out.
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