Philippine government launches probe after trans woman bullied out of beach resort bathroom

Emma Powys Maurice May 13, 2021
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Isla Reta Beach Resort

Isla Reta Beach Resort is under investigation for its treatment of a trans woman (Facebook/Isla Reta Beach Resort)

A luxury beach resort in the Philippines is under investigation after management refused to accommodate a trans woman.

Shannon Remotigue Gonzaga claims staff at the Isla Reta Beach Resort initially blocked her from using the women’s bathroom “because you’re gay”.

In a Facebook post on 10 May, Gonzaga said that she tried to enter the bathroom with her aunt and friend after swimming on the beach but was rudely confronted by an employee.

“Before entering the female bathroom, I was barred and told to [leave]. I did not engage in an argument anymore,” she said. “I looked inside the men’s shower room, but there were a lot of shirtless men. So it would be awkward for me and for them if I’d be there.”

Gonzaga says the staff demanded to see proof she had undergone surgery before allowing her to use the facilities.

“Is that how you approach us? Does it mean that if transgender [women] will use your female bathroom, they need to show their private parts as proof?” she asked on Facebook.

She escalated her complaint to the resort management but was allegedly treated with the same disrespect. “It is really prohibited because you are gay… There were also several [cis] female guests who complained about it,” they told her.

As Gonzaga’s complaint spread on social media, the resort management denied they were homophobic or transphobic as they “employ several members of the LGBT+ community”.

They claimed they couldn’t accommodate trans women because they have no facility to cater to them, but also because they were “protecting” their other guests.

Expanding on this in an interview on the Filipino news show One Mindanao, resort owner Mario Reta suggested that the policy was meant to protect women from possibly getting raped.

“We strictly implement the policy of no trans women in the women’s bathroom because we only have two bathrooms – one for men and the other for women,” he said.

“We are just protecting women [more] than gays. If men rape women, they can get pregnant, etc. But when a gay man is raped by other men, nothing happens.”

This shocking justification was condemned by Metro Manila Pride trustee Thysz Estrada, who said the “reckless” statement proved the resort was not a safe space for anyone – not just the transgender community.

“It is evident that Mario Reta’s transphobia and discriminatory attitude are deeply rooted from his toxic masculine and ignorant mindset,” agreed Mela Franco Habijan, winner of Miss Trans Global 2020.

The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) confirmed on Thursday (13 May) that it had launched an inquiry into the allegations against the resort.

“The DOT is an advocate of gender equality and mainstreaming, and does not tolerate any form of gender-based harassment nor discrimination in its systems, structures, policies, programs, and processes,” the department said in a statement.

“We enjoin the entire tourism industry to abide by our national laws on gender and development.”

Related topics: transphobia

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