All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
I have a friend, a transgender woman.
Let’s call her Miss Portugal.
She looks more womanly than me, acts more appropriate to our gender.
Every time we walk together, people would look at her first.
She was more attractive.
I would be thinking, “I wonder if they know she is not a real woman.”
Yes, yes, this poem will be about acts or thoughts of discrimination.
Those coming from me.
We were once invited to a small party, I got there first, and men asked about her.
I answered them matter-of-factly, of where she was and that she would join us shortly.
But I was waiting for the punch line.
As though not believing that they could be interested in meeting her, for real,
knowing that she also has . . . you know.
What they have.
She had a long-time boyfriend she met back in college.
They are not together anymore, but they were together for many years,
since they were freshmen ’til they already had jobs after graduation.
He was as straight as any of my male friends could be,
part of the gang,
with as many antics and tricks up his sleeve as your average kolehiYOLO.
But it was love at first sight for him.
At the common bathroom of their boys' dorm.
He was confused as to why a girl was there.
They became one of those distinguishable couples around campus.
He could be seen riding his bike around school while she sat at the backseat.
Their love story is one I like to tell when I am at a certain level of intoxication and with a certain kind of company.
I would tell it with so much flair, you’d think it was one out of a romantic Korean telenovela.
It was that hard for me to believe that I was a firsthand witness to a real-life gay love story.
I have another friend, a transgender man.
Let’s call him Buttercup.
He is a writer, a brilliant one.
When the friendship was still new, when I had just found out he wrote, after reading some of his works,
there was that familiar envy,
if not for the words he got to first,
then the dark but rich experiences I may never have.
I found myself consoling my half-inspired, half-humbled ego
with the fact that he had more suffering.
As though I knew that just by simply being so,
he was already at a disadvantage by default.
He used to be overweight.
I used to think the, well, heavy transgender men I see intentionally gained weight to lose their curves.
Then BC decided to go on a diet.
I was confused for a moment.
Then finally science came to rescue my logic back and reminded me about the heart stuff.
How dumb of me to have been more concerned of how people like him should appear that I could easily have overlooked my friend’s need to have a healthier lifestyle.
Then his no-rice diet worked.
He began to look better.
I think he felt even better.
There was the envy again.
But I was too lazy to follow his advice,
to follow suit,
so I, again, consoled myself with the thought that he was not considered a woman anyway.
Women become envious when other women lose weight only when they’re straight.
Even beautiful lesbians aren’t a real source of insecurities.
You could be dating the likes of Brandon Boyd, they’d not be able to care less.
Although it is possible the same cannot be said of your boyfriend regarding your two beautiful lesbian friends.
BC had a girlfriend, who was also a friend, still is.
There was a time when we shared a flat.
One time, my Christian preacher of a mother visited.
I introduced BC and his girlfriend as cousins.
I wasn’t ashamed of them.
I just wanted to spare myself from a barrage of questions my mother would have surely aimed at me had I told the truth.
Here I was, perhaps the most open-minded friend they have,
yet just to avoid an uncomfortable conversation,
I was able to easily shove their identities into hiding from the very people closest to me.
I did both sides a form of disrespect.
If I were to draw conclusions, I would begin with,
So shallow people give shallow judgments.
Therefore it would seem the depths I’ve tried to dive into through these years of “freethinking” instead only caused my own prejudice to sink deeper.
Only to become more difficult to recognize.
And here I was trying to “educate” this particular sort of people spewing off ignorant nonsense when I myself am still lacking,
although not in tolerance,
as most of us now are so quick to use as a defense that our treatment of the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transexuals, transgenders, transvestites, queers, the questioning, the intersexual, the pansexual, the asexual is satisfactory,
but certainly in the acceptance that what they are are, what you are,
is as natural as what I am,
what we are.