Picture this: you are walking towards the school gate dressed in a fitted white dress and ponytail. As you enter the university gate, one of the school guards sees your outfit saying it is inappropriate, and they warn you that the next time they see you wearing something alike, you will be prohibited from entering the campus.

You thought that was over; but just as you were about to go your way, one of the guards makes a quick jibe: “Bayot man diay!”, accompanied with laughter from his mates and even from your fellow schoolmates passing by.

Now picture it with a real Viscan transgender woman. This was the complaint posted on a confession page on February 8 after she was publicly humiliated by the school guards at the upper gate. It was not the way she was dressed per se, but it was in fact, that she was not a “real woman" that made her into a laughing stock. 

Over the years, queer people are constantly subjected to demeaning behavior. From offensive name-calling, pretentious side-eyeing, and concealed chuckling; these microaggressions can prevail even in a place where one would expect a certain education to heal the aching ignorance around it, and the said encounter tells us that VSU is not exempted to this.

Bayot is just one of the many cliché euphemisms used to degrade transwomen. This term may mean nothing to someone who has never had to confront their sexuality, but it is on the contrary when we talk about a word as simple as 'bayot' potentially destroying the morale of a transwoman who allotted their entire life building a safe space around their gender identity.  

What is even more disappointing is that this exact word came from people, whom we have constantly believed are meant to 'protect' our welfare as students. 

As we move up the ranks to become one of the most capable universities in the country, should not our views on the LGBTQIA+ community be at par?

It is easy for some to move the narrative to signal a certain form of gender-based empathy, where one tries to put themselves in the same shoes, while others would quickly idealize how discrimination will always be "a part of it". We just have to toughen up and deal with it; and eventually, our long-awaited empowerment will follow soon after.

But this cannot be bypassed, not anymore. We, as queer people, deserve so much more than just virtue-based encouragement. As we face countless forms of scrutiny everywhere, we are forced to think that we are only worth the little sensitivity and face-value tolerance that everyone gives us, but the truth is, we are not.

We cannot keep calling our university globally competitive if we do not learn to adapt to the demands of inclusivity. Our needs as Queer students cannot be neglected nor negotiated whether one likes it or not. The responsibility of the university should create a safer and more conducive environment for us to thrive not just as learning individuals, but also as people. If we keep settling for the bare minimum, more queer Viscans will suffer under such degrading circumstances, which may affect their mental and emotional health.

It is high time for the university to strongly advocate for better treatment of queer people's rights, and there are feasible ways to recalibrate these changes. Primarily, educating security and service personnel about the key notions under the umbrella of sexuality and gender identity/expression along with sensitivity training, can steadily change any dull and patronizing behavior in the future.

Eventually, this leads us to the bigger picture of enacting the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression Equality, and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) Equality Bill. It is in the best interest of every Viscan, whether you are a student or a faculty member, since it is exclusive to everyone, regardless of sex, gender, economic/marital status, and religion. This reform shall once and for all be grounded and recognized as our 'right' by law, and not because of wanting any "special treatment". 

As we near the end of the month-long celebration of Women's month, may we remember that transwomen are real women, and we must continue to call for policies that will secure us a sense of trust and protection for us, queer Viscans. No one should ever feel the shame of living their truth every time they walk through the halls of our very scenic university. We deserve to belong and be welcomed as human beings with valid dreams and feelings that will never be defined by any mockery. We’re now done being merely tolerated; we need to be accepted, we deserve to be respected.

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