Ianne Gamboa, an LGBTQ+ advocate, and the first Transgender Magna Cum Laude graduate of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), is helping to shape the future for a much larger community.
“When I was in sixth grade, I started wearing women’s apparel. I felt so confident, comfortable, and empowered. I felt that I am myself when I wore that dress my parents bought me,” Ianne says. Little did 12-year-old Ianne know that she was destined to achieve great things.
As the top college scholar of the PUP College of Arts and Letters in 2018, Ianne also inspired many by making history for being the first transgender valedictorian of the university. She made headlines all over social media, the news reaching beyond her campus.
As news spread, people on social media were vocal to disagree. Her success has been provoking absurd online debates whether or not she is a woman.
Ianne shares that the worst experience with discrimination and transphobic people she had ever encountered occurred in social media. She said, “It’s very much painful how those people set their parameters on what a woman is.”
“She is not a woman,” they said.
Amidst the stigma that she had been receiving, she remained undaunted saying, “I honestly like what the article caused in the online community; it raised dialogue between people who accept the LGBT Community and others who don’t. All those hateful comments are not about me, it is about those people who said them.”
It’s not feminism if it’s not intersectional
During women’s month, some women on the internet denied Ianne her own identity. International women’s month is about paying homage to diverse groups of women who strongly fight against the many forms of oppression. But on the contrary, is it still considered a “celebration” when women themselves oppress other women? Miss Ianne Gamboa doesn’t think so.
In her words, “true feminism celebrates all types of women. Women have a set of experiences that only women undergo. Women should empower other women and not pull each other down. As women, the worst thing we can do is to not stand up for each other.”
She defines gender equality as “a means of giving equal and fair opportunity to all gender without bias and prejudice.”
As a transwoman amongst the plight of discrimination, Ianne Gamboa is urging the Senate for a faster passage of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill. She stresses, “the SOGIE Bill has been pended and revised for more than a decade. If the Senate is really concerned about the Filipino people, they must protect the rights of the LGBT Community.”
Not only are the LGBTQ+ people facing rampant prejudice from strangers on a daily basis, but there are also those who unfortunately experience discrimination and a lack of acceptance at home. And in the worst-case-scenario of homo/transphobic setting, their own family unfairly disowns them. Ianne, who grew up with unceasing support from her family, acknowledges this issue.
As her parents say, “Family should be the first, among other people, to accept their own children for who and what they are. Support from family motivates and inspires a transgender child in becoming who they really are and achieving their dreams.”
On finding the courage to come out
“We only have one life. We should live it the way we want it and do what makes us happy. Our gender identity is not something we choose. Coming out and figuring out our identity really takes time. You just have to accept your own truth and live it according to you.” She said.
Her vision for the future of Transwomen
“We have the first transwoman, Miss Spain Angela Ponce who joined Ms. Universe, we also have the first transwoman, Rep. Geraldine Roman who was elected in the Philippine Congress. We are taking baby steps slowly but surely. Sooner, I can see that those transwomen role models can also encourage other transwomen or cis women to start breaking barriers and create their own “first.”
Remember her name. Ianne Gamboa, an advocate of LGBTQ+’s rights, is the “first transgender valedictorian of PUP,” but first and foremost, she is a woman galvanizing the country for changes.