‘It’s discrimination’: Beach resort issues ban on transgender people

May 13, 2021 - 10:31 AM
LGBT rainbow umbrella
A participant holds a rainbow umbrella as he attends a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride Parade in Hong Kong November 8, 2014. Participants from the LGBT communities took to the streets on Saturday to demonstrate for their rights. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

The local LGBT community slammed a local resort over alleged discrimination in its Facebook post announcing a ban on transgender people.

The management of Isla Reta Beach Resort issued the ban in a brief statement on Facebook on May 12, arguing that it has no facilities to accommodate transgender individuals’ demands.

“We inform to the public (sic) we cannot accommodate transgender because we have no facility for them to avoid issues of discrimination,” it said.

Isla Beach Resort
Isla Reta Beach Resort’s post as seen in this May 13 screenshot.

In the comments section, Filipinos criticized the management and pointed out that not allowing transgender people from their premises is already a form of discrimination.

“Isn’t not allowing our transgender brothers and sisters a blatant form of discriminatory practice? Please review this policy,” one user said.

“What an irony! Not accommodating transgender is already a discrimination. Why not admit that your customer service is poor and apologize sincerely instead of blabbing about discrimination,” another user said.

“’Avoid the issue of discrimination’, but this is clearly discrimination amongst transgender people by not letting them in. The owner needs awareness. No wonder the staff were ignorant and rude in handling the situation; may pinagmanahan pala,” another user wrote.

Miss Trans Global 2020 Mela Franco Habijan echoed this view and stressed that not accommodating transgender people is an act of discrimination.

“For the sake of clarity, what trans-accommodating facility are we talking about? Because I have been to resorts and I haven’t encountered any resort facility that is ‘trans-exclusive’ facility. The mere fact that ‘you will not accommodate’ trans people like me into your establishment is already an act of discrimination,” Habijan said.

She also lamented that members of the LGBT community, particularly transgender people, continued to face such discrimination today.

“It is painful that we, trans people, continuously receive this hostile and transphobic treatment. Why do have to constantly fight for spaces that cisgender people enjoy?” Habijan said.

As of writing, there is no nationwide policy that prohibits discrimination of sexual orientation in public or private spaces.

There are anti-discrimination ordinances passed in some local government units in the country.

Some clarification?

Following the initial criticisms, the management of the resort tried to clarify that the decision came after they declined a transgender guest to use the women’s shower room. This prompted the latter to accuse them of discrimination on Facebook.

Photo of the clarification statement from Isla Reta Beach Resort on May 12, 2021

The common shower rooms or areas don’t have separate cubicles once inside, they noted. In line with this, they said that some of their female guests do not feel safe sharing these facilities with transgender people.

“Women are complaining if there are transgenders using it with them. Since then, it has become the management’s policy not to allow transgenders to use the female shower room,” they said.

“The management has no facility yet to cater to the transgenders’ demand for a separate shower room,” they added.

Youth group the University of the Philippines-Babaylan, however, countered this and stressed that transwomen are also women.

“The baseless arguments that trans people need to undergo surgery to be their gender, and that allowing trans women in women’s restrooms enables sexual harassment have been debunked by actual data. Trans women are women, and as this and many other cases have proven, trans people are actually the ones getting harassed in restrooms,” the organization said.

The group then called on the Department of Tourism and the provincial government to sanction the resort and enact a corresponding policy against discrimination.