Trans men and women in the Philippines are targets of hate crimes and merciless killings simply because of their gender identity and expression. Among them are Jennifer Laude, whose death made global headlines, and Jhie Bangkiao and Ebeng Mayor, whose separate murders happened in just a span of one week.
With lives lost due to violence and inequality, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) of the Philippines initiated to take action through the NO MORE MISSING OUT campaign to safeguard every Filipino’s right to live with dignity, and without prejudice. Because stigma and discrimination demeans and limits an individual’s freedom and self-realization. And in the case of the LGBTQI community in the Philippines, the limits are often tragically final – death due to gender discrimination.
The impunity against trans people, in particular, is linked to the lack of any national law in the Philippines that gives LGBTQI people protections against harassment and discrimination.Therefore, it's essential that trans men and women be given the same rights and freedom to live and express themselves.
In the past two decades, at least 50 transgender Filipinos have been murdered. In that same time frame, the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression (SOGIE) Bill, also known as the Anti-Discrimination Bill, has been pending in congress. And until it passes as a national law that protects every Filipino regardless of SOGIE, trans killings will continue to rise. The refusal of Filipino politicians to pass a national law protecting LGBTQI individuals comes down to cisgender people not being able to relate to transgender people. We needed to get across to the public that trans people are simply people, with interests and jobs and passions just like anyone else.
Together with the families of Jennifer Laude, Ebeng Mayor, and Jhie Bangkiao, the CHR commissioned true-to-life-sized forms of these high-profile trans murder victims, without gore or sensationalism. The forms were made up of simple, relatable joys of life that made Jennifer, Ebeng, and Jhie who they were– travel, pageants, pets, school, and love; gaming, tattoos, movies, and love; and volleyball, music, TV, and the beach. These were illustrated in the styles of their personalities – bright and fun, street, and more stickery sweet. And composed in a way that created their outlines (based on actual photos from the families) in negative space.
Text in the negative space explained that they’re missing out on all the things that made their lives happy, but no one else should miss out. Which is why a national law protecting the community is needed.
On Trans Day of Remembrance, these forms were taken around places connected to their interests – a flight attendant school, a college dormitory, a public baywalk, a tattoo shop, a karaoke room, a communal pool, and a public restaurant. In these areas, and at a CHR event, the public got to experience trans people as not other or sensationalized, but as people who share interests and aspirations just like them.
A film featuring the forms was released online, and played on a loop on monitors at a major bus terminal in Metro Manila. The forms were also brought onsite, bringing public commuters face to face with the issue.
With strategic placement of the standees in key locations, NO MORE MISSING OUT drew the attention of the people, specifically, the lawmakers crucial in pushing the SOGIE Bill into law. Our campaign efforts spurred Senator Risa Hontiveros, the lone opposition leader and champion of the LGBTQIA+ in the senate, to push the urgency of the SOGIE bill approval, specifically highlighting NO MORE MISSING OUT in her privilege speech. This made an impact as it generated more support and awareness in moving forward the 20-year-old bill towards Senate approval, with 19 out of 24 senators signing on– making the SOGIE Bill one more step closer to becoming law after years of no movement. This success marks a huge progress towards every Filipino getting closer than ever to no more missing out.