Netizens hail university president for letting transwoman wear dress for graduation
MANILA, Philippines – A university president in Bicol won the hearts of netizens after he granted the request of a transwoman student to wear women's clothing for her graduation rites.
“I stan a progressive Father President!” tweeted Roman Giuseppe “Emma” Bueno, as she shared the good news with fellow netizens on Tuesday, March 19.
Bueno had written a formal letter to Ateneo de Naga University President Father Roberto Rivera, SJ, for her request. She told Rivera that a graduation committee professor had reminded her that crossdressing is not allowed during the Baccalaureate Mass and graduation ceremony "in spite of the fact that I have been wearing the clothes that reflects my gender identity as a transgender woman."
"I have gained the support of my parents, relatives, friends, peers, and the Ateneo community itself ever since I started transitioning," Bueno said in her letter.
The request was not only marked "approved," Rivera also scribbled a note on one side, telling Bueno to present the letter if her choice of clothing would be questioned again.
“He even congratulated me!” Bueno said.
Director of Student Affairs Rodolfo SB Virtus Jr had recommended to Rivera the approval of the request, citing a similar request granted in 2017.
Bueno's post had been retweeted over 2,000 times and liked more than 16,000 times as of writing. Netizens expressed admiration for Rivera and his “progressive” and “open-minded” attitude toward the matter.
One of my transphobic/homophobic teacher called the attention of the graduation committee questioning my way of wearing female clothes for the baccalaureate mass and graduation day. So I wrote a letter personally to the Father President and his response made me emotional pic.twitter.com/GB6XBAFE5w— Emma (@Emmabueno_) March 19, 2019
Fr. Robert Rivera is really an understanding and open minded Jesuit. Glad to know he is your University President. He deserves the position and you deserve to have a president like him. Best regards Fr. Rivera and congratulations Emma! All the best! Thanks for sharing this.— FudgyScribbles (@FudgyScribbles) March 19, 2019
Fr. Robert is such a kind and wonderful person (as with most Jesuits I know)! Even when he was still a chaplain at my primary school. Good on him to support you. Congrats on graduating!— Ryan Pelongco (@rararararyan) March 20, 2019
That’s such great news!! In this day and age, it’s extremely difficult to fight for equality and representation. Proud of you! Congratulations!!!!!— nica (@teachersalt) March 20, 2019
‘Find your safe space'
In her letter to Rivera, Bueno noted that women’s clothing best reflects her gender identity as a transwoman, and that dressing as a man rather feels like “crossdressing” to her. (READ: ‘One Big Pride': Ateneo LGBTQIA+ community calls for acceptance on women’s month)
“Personally, wearing clothes for male is the act that would make me feel like I am crossdressing,” Bueno explained in her appeal.
Asked for a message for her fellow lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual+ (LGBTQIA+) who have been criticized for expressing their identity, Bueno urged them to continue to strive for equal rights and to challenge repressive policies. (READ: Get to know Ianne Gamboa, PUP's first transwoman valedictorian)
“Always remember that you are valid. Find your safe space and from there allow yourself to shine. Slay the world!” Bueno said.
Bueno, a senior financial management and accounting student, is set to graduate on March 23, coincidentally her birthday. She plans to “slay” the ceremony in a red dress and black heels. – Rappler.com
Sofia Faye Virtudes is a Rappler intern. She is a Development Communication graduate from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).