Calls to pass SOGIE bill revived amid alleged discrimination at clothing store

October 20, 2022 - 7:18 PM
This composite shows transwoman Louis Marasigan along with a screenshot of her TikTok video. (Louis Marasigan/Facebook; Tiktok)

Calls to pass the anti-discrimination bill were renewed following a video that showed a transwoman sharing her experience after being shunned from using the women’s fitting room.

A transwoman named Louis Marasigan, who is also a municipal councilor in San Juan, Batangas, was teary-eyed in a video while sharing her shopping experience at a fashion boutique in a mall in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.

Marasigan shared this video on TikTok and her other social media accounts on October 18.

What happened 

In the video, Marasigan said that an employee stopped her from trying on clothes in the women’s fitting room of ZARA, a Spanish clothing chain.

The staff member then directed Marasigan and her sibling to the men’s fitting room instead.

Marasigan said that even after she informed the staff that she is a transwoman, the employee insisted that she should go to the men’s fitting room.

The video creator opted to just pay for the clothes and air her concern to the personnel at the counter.

According to Marasigan, what caused her further heartache was that the store’s manager, who is also a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, appeared to dismiss her complaint.

“Ito pa yung nakakatawa. Yung manager nila, gay din. Part ng LGBT. And then sabi niya, paglapit niya sakin, nareceive na daw yung complaint. Sabi ko babayaran ko nalang yung clothes,” Marasigan said.

“Akala ko makakarinig pa ko sakanya ng like pagsasabihin niya na hindi tama, pangangaralan niya na hindi tama yung ginawa nung babae sakin. Kasi nga LGBT members kami, dapat alam namin yun. Tapos niya lang, ‘ok na po ba tapos na po ba yung complaint’. Di na ko nagsalita. Umalis nalang siya,” she added.

The video has since garnered more than eight million views on TikTok so far. It also circulated on Facebook and Twitter.

The management of ZARA has no response regarding this matter as of writing.

Groups call for passage of SOGIE Equality bill

LGBTQIA+ rights groups Bahaghari and the University of the Philippines-Babaylan renewed the clamor for the passage of a law that would uphold the SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression) of all individuals, including members of the community.

Both groups also made emphasis on the brand’s reputation of being an LGBTQIA+ ally.

In its statement, Bahaghari recalled a previous incident when Zara was accused of discrimination by a transgender shopper in 2020.

“Despite parading itself to be a brand that ‘supports’ the LGBTQIA+ community, ZARA has allowed such discriminatory acts to continue even after facing a similar complaint in 2020 in its NYC stores,” the alliance said.

“Moreover, they still have not provided gender-sensitivity [training] to their employees to avoid similar incursions in the future,” it added.

International reports said that Zara reached a $30,000 settlement with a transgender shopper who alleged experiencing discrimination in its stores in New York City on multiple occasions.

Women’s rights group Gabriela Partylist also showed solidarity with the push to pass the SOGIE Equality Bill. It also stressed that transwomen are women.

“Zara should be made accountable as they are responsible for educating their personnel on anti-discrimination policies,” the organization said.

“This is also why we must push for the passage of the SOGIESC Equality Bill to prohibit discrimination towards people with diverse SOGIESC,” it added.

SOGIESC is spelled out as sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics.

Personalities speaking up

Mela Franco Habijan, Miss Trans Global 2020, lamented that Filipinos still do not recognize the SOGIE of transgender people.

“Hindi lahat ng Male sa birth certificate ay lalaki. Mayroong mga kagaya namin — Trans Women. Babae sa isip, puso, at kaluluwa. Hindi lahat ng Female sa birth certificate ay babae. Sila ay ang mga kapatid nating trans men,” she said.

“At may mga Queer na hindi magpapakahon sa pagkalalaki at pagka-babae,” Habijan added.

Filipino-American LGBTQIA+ celebrities Bretman Rock and Oliver also expressed support for Marasigan in the comments section of the latter’s TikTok video.

Screenshot from Louis Marasigan’s TikTok video
Screenshot from Louis Marasigan’s TikTok video