Let people be people. Let their identities be theirs to define and express; let them who they’d like to be; let them be happy.
Let everybody be free.
Perhaps it’s only apt for me to include the recent name change of internationally famous Filipino singer (then-called) Charice Pempengco to Jake Zyrus. It was met with outrage and an overwhelming amount of transphobia; people insisting on the name Charice and telling him that biologically, he was female and nothing else. There was also an Esquire article that mocked his chosen name – though they have since apologized and owned up to their shortcomings.
Former Chairman of PinoyFTM the first trans man organization in the Philippines Nick Fernandez says:
“Name changes are one of the most significant points in a transgender person’s life. Unlike haircuts or change of clothing style, name changes often mean that the transition is taking a deeper and more personal level. It is one of the moments when the person is exposing their vulnerability, just like when a child is born to the world. When you combine the words ‘celebrity’ and ‘LGBT,’ it is bound to get some significant attention and reaction. In the Philippines, the concept of ‘girl, boy, bakla, tomboy‘ is tightly latched to the culture and Jake’s move challenged that again, similar to BB Gandang Hari, Angie King, and Aiza Seguerra.
However, the concept of being a transgender person is still a very misunderstood concept with people ending up seeing the person either as bakla or tomboy, especially if they have identified as either one for some time. We hope that Jake can use his voice to speak for all us and effectively help in educating people that transgender people exist because celebrities are very influential. We are hoping that Jake can stand his ground and become one of the platforms for all those who cannot speak for themselves.”
Please – let Jake be Jake. It is his choice, and one we must respect.