To show support for those it considers underserved, the federal Philippine Land Transportation Office recently added a new category of customers allowed to use its priority lanes. The classification: LBGTQ, in order to, an official explained, “elevate the confidence of that sector which has been until now, discriminated and ostracized.” The promise: from now on lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, and those otherwise questioning their gender could stand in the shorter lines previously accessible only to the elderly, pregnant, and disabled.
The public reaction was immediate and vociferous: hell no! But not from those opposed to equal rights for sexual minorities. No, the harshest outcry came from its loudest advocates. “Enough with excessive pandering,” one netizen proclaimed. “Not only are you insulting the group you are pandering to, you are also drawing unnecessary animosity toward them.”
Explained Reyna Valmores, national chair of the advocacy group Bahaghari (Rainbow): “We want to make clear—being an LGBTQ+ in no way impairs or affects a person in a physical capacity.” Offering them special accommodations, she added, creates the “misleading implication” that it does.
All of which, for me anyway, raises some profound questions. Primary among them: is the Philippines going the way of the US regarding LBGTQ rights? More specifically, overboard?
Let me explain.
I have always believed that lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, et al. should be treated like anyone else. I have family members who are gay, and friends who are transgender. And, honestly, what they do behind closed doors or how they choose to identify is nobody’s business but their own. I respect them, enjoy their company and, with transgenders, even call them by their preferred pronouns.
I also adhere to traditional biological definitions of gender: those with penises are male, while people with vaginas are female. It’s really quite simple; enough to have served countless generations for thousands of years.
Lately, though, that definition—in America anyway—has become convoluted. People have gotten fired for using “incorrect” pronouns. Boys claiming to be girls regularly frequent women’s bathrooms. And males “identifying” as females have become champion medalists in women’s sport.
The most obvious problem with all this, of course, is its immediate challenge to the hard-won rights of women gained precariously over the decades. But there’s a deeper issue that penetrates the core of civilization itself and threatens its very existence: whether there’s such a thing as objective reality. Is it whatever we choose it to be, or—at least sometimes—defined by eons of science, observation, and math? In short, if we can no longer agree on such basic biological realities as gender, are we not hovering dangerously on the precipice of a new Dark Age?
Fortunately, there are early signs that common sense may be making a delayed re-entry. The Washington Post reported on a poll this week indicating a clear majority of Americans—about 57 percent—believe gender is determined biologically at birth. And Anheuser-Busch, the international maker of Bud Light beer, recently suffered the wrath of customers incensed by the company’s embrace of flamboyant transgender icon Dylan Mulvaney to represent its brand. The company lost a fortune, and at least two high-level executives went out on indefinite leave.
Then a white Republican County Councilman in Indiana began receiving death threats from trans activists and other “progressives” after declaring himself a black lesbian woman of color. “After much consideration,” Councilman Ryan Webb wrote in a Facebook post, “I have decided to come out and finally feel comfortable announcing my true authentic self. I’m excited to bring some diversity to the county council.”
Sorry, but I think he makes a good point.
Which is why I’ve decided to identify as a bestselling author of suspense novels. I’ll be contacting Random House in the morning for a contract. Or better…a single 25-year-old irresistibly charming Casanova with rakish good looks.
Dinner anyone? Please?
David Haldane’s latest book, “A Tooth in My Popsicle,” is available on Amazon and Lazada. A former Los Angeles Times staff writer, he is an award-winning journalist, author, essayist, and broadcaster with homes in Joshua Tree, California, and Northern Mindanao, Philippines, where this column appears weekly in the Gold Star Daily.