On Monday, Geraldine Roman became the first transgender politician to win a congressional seat in the Philippines, a heavily Catholic nation. Roman — who underwent sex reassignment surgery and legally changed her name and gender in the 1990s — will succeed her mother as representative of Bataan, a farming province just northwest of Manila. “The politics of bigotry, hatred and discrimination did not triumph. What triumphed was the politics of love, acceptance and respect,” Roman said after her victory.
Roman’s success is a testament to both the power of political dynasty in the Philippines, where political families routinely dominate politics, and to the appeal of her message of equality. Her campaign promised to lift the restrictions of a 2001 bill that made it impossible for transgender Filipinos to legally change their names and genders, and to push for a broader anti-discrimination bill to protect transgender rights. Roman also pledged to fight for legislation that would help poor students nationwide receive scholarships. “Equality [is] not only in terms of gender,” Roman said, “but also in terms of socioeconomic status.”
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