By Commissioner Mike (CM) Shannon
It is Saturday morning, September 15th, 2018; Payday Saturday, just one week removed from the events of MWF 4: Road to Fate; and here I am waking up early for what is supposed to be my first day on Hormone Replacement Therapy. I have my prescription, all I need is the bloodwork so my doctor could compare and flesh out a better treatment course. Once that’s done, I can begin my journey.
Now, I hate getting my blood tested. And it isn’t because I’m afraid of needles, but I hate fasting. Going hungry is one thing, but going thirsty is another thing altogether. And through nothing but will and the promise of a good future, I made sure I didn’t ingest anything for a good twelve hours. Given the weather conditions, I begin my journey to the mall clinic hoping that there wouldn’t be a lot of people due to the weather and I would be back home in no time. And sure enough, there is no one at the mall clinic because it’s closed for the day.
Better luck next weekend…
Wrestling and Gender Sensitivity
As a transgender person coming into wrestling, I had tried to keep my identity as an open secret early on. The response I had received after coming out on our Insider Blog was overwhelmingly positive- and that was something I just never expected. Wrestling in many ways an esoteric brotherhood, it’s ingrained in the fabric of our tradition. So to know that I am accepted among my peers was just more than anything I could have asked for. Even people who weren’t supportive of me, started to show legitimate support and concern following the reaction to that article.
Not too long after it came out, we had our third official show for the year, Republika. At the end of the Rex Lawin-Martivo match, Rex took it upon himself to do the unthinkable and disrespect the Pride flag Martivo took to the ring with him. He had apologized to Martivo and I once he returned to Gorilla. Now, I was in shock because I didn’t know whether I should feel offended or proud that he took it upon himself to get some extra heat off a pretty hot crowd.
And so in the aftermath of Republika, the decision was made to shoot a gender sensitivity video featuring Rex Lawin and Coach Gus Queens.
Understanding SOGIE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression)
I understood myself because of the internet. In my early to mid-twenties, I looked to places like Tumblr as a haven where I could slowly come to terms with my own gender identity while understanding the experiences of others whose self-expression may fall outside of the gender binary. So many of these identities and expressions are normal to me.
In my understanding, if people were capable of experiencing a wide range of attractions that went from all-to-none, then it seems only natural that the same can be applied to gender identity. Which, is the focus of what I’m about to talk about.
A week or two before the events of Republika, I had scheduled a consultation for HRT treatment with Victoria by Love Yourself PH.
Love Yourself PH is a fantastic organization that provides free HIV testing and reproductive health education to people all across Metro Manila. In the last year, they have extended their services to transgender people in need of HRT treatment through Victoria by Love Yourself.
Hormone therapy does not come cheap, especially if you want to do it right with the proper medical supervision, so to have this option available to people like me was nothing more than a godsend. And so, on a rainy Tuesday afternoon, I left work early and underwent the first of what till be many HRT consultations at Victoria’s Pasay branch.
My experience at Victoria was comfortable and interesting. The people who worked there made me feel right at home and I had the chance to share my experiences with fellow trans sisters who are so far ahead in their journey. We talked about everything; from shaving, to dealing with family, to managing hormones, and dealing with the more intimate nature of our romantic relationships with the people we love. It was relaxed. Like, I could have spent all afternoon there and talked about life over a pot of tea.
Now, before you get a chance to speak with a doctor, you will sit down with a representative from Victoria who will run you through the basics of SOGIE. This whole experience was such an eye-opener for me.
So, they sit me down with another transwoman, who by the looks of things, is just so far ahead of where I am. She’s been presenting for a while and from my understanding wanted HRT to soften her features a little bit more.
There we are, sitting next to each other, while a representative from Victoria ran us through the various gender and sexual identities. Like I said, I basically grew up on Tumblr. These things are not new to me. But for the girl I was with, all the information seemed so new that she needed a moment to comprehend that the world wasn’t as black and white as ‘male and female’ or ‘straight and gay’; there were shades in between, and that like myself, there are transwomen out there who like women; that there are people who feel like men and women, or none at all.
I guess, in my naivety, I had assumed that all queer, at least trans and non-binary people, all knew the same things. It showed me that even though we were both the same, there are still so many differences in our understanding of gender and the world around us.
That experience never left my mind that when the time came to do a gender sensitivity video, it would become the major influence behind our efforts.
More Than Boy and Girl
Production on the video was nothing short of a dream come true for all of us. In many ways, the interaction between Martivo and Rex Lawin wrote itself. While they are both incredibly similar wrestlers in approach and work ethic (they’re young, hungry, and very proud), they’re both such polar opposites that they almost complement each other.
Martivo is the rainbow warrior, a man who is unapologetically himself and a reflection of how far acceptance and tolerance have come in the Philippines; a new wave of strong and eclectic Filipino men. On the other hand, Rex Lawin represents the toughness and aggression of traditional Filipino masculinity. And yet, he accepts and understands these differences without any issues.
Here we have two characters that represent the past and future of Filipino men, understanding each other.
What makes this so powerful for me is how it reflects some of the instances I had come out to people. In my experience, acceptance sometimes comes from the least likely of people. And that’s so powerful, because sometimes, someone I would never imagined would understand gets it more than someone I thought would.
Let’s Learn Together!
The fact that we had the chance to educate people and open their eyes to LGBTQ identities was such a dream come true for all of us. And with that, we want to do our part to continue this wave of acceptance. If Filipino wrestling is this colorful and diverse now, imagine where it would be in a few more years?
The A/V team at the MWF Wrestling have put together this amazing resource that we urge everyone to copy and share. Allow me to introduce you all to the LUCHADOR SOGIE!
The LUCHA SOGIE has four values:
Gender Identity: How you feel about yourself.
Gender Expression: The way you present yourself to the world.
Biological Sex: The parts you were born with.
Orientation: The people you love.