Transgender Tacloban student earns buzz as school allows her to wear female uniform

Grade 12 transgender student Sessy Maravillo proudly flaunts a girl’s uniform, which she was allowed to wear by her school in Tacloban City. (Photo: Sessy Maravillo/Facebook)
Grade 12 transgender student Sessy Maravillo proudly flaunts a girl’s uniform, which she was allowed to wear by her school in Tacloban City. (Photo: Sessy Maravillo/Facebook)

Seventeen-year-old senior high school student and transgender woman Sessy Maravillo went viral on Thursday (Sept 22) after she expressed gratitude toward her school, Leyte National High School, in Tacloban City for allowing her to wear a female uniform, which reflects her gender identity.

Maravillo took to Facebook to say how she has been “very much blessed and grateful at the same time for being in a school that totally accepts LGBTQIA+ members of the society.”

LGBTQIA+ refers collectively to people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual, or those that fall outside the cisgender male-female binary.

Participants holding Pride flags and signs calling for the SOGIE Equality Bill to be passed at Metro Manila Pride March in Quezon City in the Philippines on June 25, 2022. (Photo: Metro Manila Pride)
Metro Manila Pride March in Quezon City this June as Pride Month celebrations returned to the streets after two years of lockdowns. (Photo: Metro Manila Pride)

Maravillo said that, given the sudden rise in the visibility of LGBTQIA+ members in the country, school uniform policies for transwomen and other members of the community have become an added concern.

“I want them also to feel the same way as I feel—the acceptance, freedom, love, and above all, the respect,” she said.

Maravillo also called for other educational institutions to adopt gender-neutral uniforms because, according to her, “forcing clothes on children or students won’t make a school better.”

“I hope that, in the near future, other schools will also conform to gender-friendly wearing of uniforms. Thus, it does not only intend to help in amplifying gender acceptance in our society but as well as helping our fellowmen to build strong confidence within them,” she said.

“Making our brothers and sisters … feel safe is not enough, we should also make them feel comfortable,” the trans student added.

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In June this year, a group of transgender students made headlines after Miss Trans Global 2020 Mela Franco Habijan gifted them with a graduation photoshoot after they were barred from participating in their graduation rites due to their school’s dress code and haircut policy.

Department of Education National Capital Region later issued a memorandum allowing students to choose school uniforms aligned with their sexual orientation, gender identity and (gender) expression, also known as SOGIE.

However, the Philippines has yet to pass the SOGIE equality bill, which seeks to end gender-based discrimination and violence in the country.

Lé Baltar is a Manila-based freelance writer, poet, and film critic. They are secretary of the Society of Filipino Film Reviewers (SFFR). They are currently studying journalism at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Follow them on Twitter @baltarle for latest news and updates. For more of their work, visit their portfolio. The views expressed are their own.

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