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A Tale of Y and Z: Generations that Continue to Define a Better Tomorrow

As everyone chooses to live in a constant flux of black and white, these young minds are redefining the common narrative by taking matters into their own hands. For these passionate and driven souls, age is but a number to create an impact.



The youth’s pursuit for purpose is insatiable. Today’s generations of students, social entrepreneurs, advocates, and philanthropists all have their own vision of making the world a better place. In spite of the criticisms thrown in their way, they make it a vow for their voices to be heard. 

As members of the digital era, not a day goes by that our parents would tell us to spend less time on our phones and more time on educating ourselves about social and political concerns that surround us. Yet the moment we allow ourselves to be informed and choose our own stand, a line of adults are already waiting to dismiss our opinions and repetitively argue that we are “too young to understand”.

Older generations fear that modern technology will dampen our minds and isolate us from the world, but today’s realities show that we are more than just a reflection of our digital behavior. In fact, we are the exact opposite of it. 

In the past decade, young people have been at the forefront of social discussions that tackle the most pressing global concerns. With the aid of digital media, the world continues to witness the evolution of  generations that are not only more informed and connected, but also more empathetic and socially responsible. 

As everyone chooses to live in a constant flux of black and white, these young minds are redefining the common narrative by taking matters into their own hands. For these passionate and driven souls, age is but a number to create an impact. Below presents 6 young influencers who continue to pioneer change in their own ways and prove that our generation can do it better. 

1. Greta Thunberg, 18

Photo from Agence France-Presse

NASA estimates that nearly 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide are released annually, leading to rising sea levels and warmer global temperatures. 800 million people around the world are currently vulnerable to impacts of climate change, but experts believe that more uncontrolled carbon emissions will only increase this statistic. Swedish-born environmental activist Greta Thunberg is on a mission to change that narrative. 

Greta’s outspoken spirit for climate change mitigation made her a household name in the past year and earned her many accolades including TIME magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019.

Her humble journey began at 8 years old when she was just beginning to learn about the Earth’s climate. At 11, she convinced her family to go vegan, quit flying, and avoid buying new clothes. Since then, her passion to raise awareness for climate change has grown.  

In August 2018, Greta sat in front of the Swedish parliament with a sign that read, “Skolstrejk för klimatet” (School strike for climate), and vowed to continue striking until Sweden has agreed to take part in the Paris Agreement. As her story became known, the weekly school strikes grew into global movements for climate change action. The #FridaysforFuture movement has since become a community of young people who are striking from school for their future. 

As someone living with Asperger’s syndrome, Greta also took her growing platform as an opportunity to stand up for others who are considered different by society. Critics have used her condition against her, but she believes that it is the reason why she is where she is today. 

Her “superpower”, as she calls it, allowed her to become focused and interested in subjects like the Earth’s climates. If it weren’t for her being different, then she would have continued to not bat an eye on environmental concerns like everyone else. Skolstrejk för klimatet would have never been born and that UN speech as we know it would have ceased to exist. 

“Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago. We have to understand what the older generation has dealt to us, what mess they have created that we have to clean up and live with. We have to make our voices heard.”

2. Kesz Valdez, 21

Photo from Kids Rights’s website

In the Philippines alone, approximately 1.5 million children that live on the streets are vulnerable to abuse, violence, and child labor. After coming face-to-face with poverty at a young age, Cris “Kesz” Valdez made it his mission to help create a future where no child would have to live, work, or beg in the streets to sustain themselves. 8 years after receiving the International Peace Prize, he remains relentless to fulfill this dream.  

Abused by his father and neglected by his mother, Kesz ran away from home to live in the streets of Imus, Cavite at the age of 4. He slept in public cemeteries and was forced to fend for himself by scavenging at a dumpsite. One night, while rushing to rummage through piles of garbage, he fell into burning tires that resulted in severe burns on his arm and back. What seemed to be one of the worst nights of his life had turned out to be life changing for the young boy because it was also at that time when community worker Harnin Manalaysay rescued and took him under his wing.

Unlike most kids his age, Kesz did not wish for presents on his 7th birthday and instead wanted to give gifts to other street children. This inspired him to start his own organization, Championing Community Children (C3), that aims to provide clothing, food, and toys to less-privileged children living in the slums. These “Gifts of Hope” packages have since made their way into the hands of 38,000 children in the country. With the help of more than 200 volunteers, C3 continues to expand its cause by tending to children’s wounds and educating them on proper hygiene, nutrition, and rights. 

His selfless mission to help young children allowed him to gain recognition and support from various philanthropists and advocates around the world including the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu. But in spite of all the praises, Kesz remains humbled by his roots. He credits much of his success to his mentor and foster father, Harnin, who he believes has not only ailed his wounds but also gave him the love and affection he has yearned for all those years. 

“I help because I see myself in children, who roam and live on the streets, and some good-hearted people showed me love and changed my life, and I am just paying it forward.”

3. Jack Andraka, 23

Photo from The Beaker Life’s website

According to the WHO, cancer is one of leading causes of mortality which affects more than 14.1 million people in the world annually. However, almost half of cancer patients are diagnosed too late which greatly reduces their chances of survival. While thousands of scientists are working towards a cure, young innovator Jack Andraka is on a quest to change the face of cancer diagnostics and make scientific knowledge accessible for everyone. 

Jack’s story began at 13 years old when a close family friend of his passed away from pancreatic cancer. Being the tech savvy teenager he was, he looked up the deadly disease on the internet and there he found out that 85% of pancreatic cancers are diagnosed late. This sparked a cascade of ideas in his young mind.

Undeterred, Jack pursued his goal to create an inexpensive, more sensitive cancer detector. After spending most of his summer researching about 8,000 proteins, he found out about a protein called mesothelin that exists in the early stages of the disease. 

His first prototype was a sensor made out of filter paper, carbon nanotubes, and mesothelin-sensitive antibodies that cost 3 cents to make and 5 minutes to run while also being over 400 times more sensitive than the conventional methods. Initial tests of his detection tool on human blood serum showed over 90% accuracy in detecting mesothelin. 

But along this journey, Jack noticed another problem that piqued his attention. He saw how the scientific paywall was creating almost like a caste system of who gets access to the best knowledge and researches over who does not. Most scientific publishers nowadays charge a hefty amount (usually around P1000 to P2500) in exchange for monthly and annual subscription to research articles. 

This “tier-based method of dissemination” was creating a problem not only amongst the scientific community, but also among the general public as it was limiting the amount of information and knowledge that 85% of the world can have access to. A world that lives in knowledge democracy is what he calls for because through open access to quality education, possibilities of future scientific discoveries like his are simply limitless. 

“Knowledge is not a commodity and science shouldn’t be a luxury. Knowledge should be a basic human right because the minds of people must be free. And that means the minds of everyone, not the minds of the select few who can afford these articles. Not because it’s economically sound, but rather because it’s ethically correct. And that’s what we call equality. And I think we can institute this change, because think, if a 15-year-old who didn’t know what a pancreas was, could find a new way to detect pancreatic cancer, just imagine what we can all do together.”

4. Lauren Singer, 29

Photo from Outerknown’s website

The average person generates roughly 4.4 pounds of trash everyday. Plastic generally takes 450 to 1000 years to completely decompose, which is 15 to 50 times more than an average person’s lifespan. So even when we die, the trash we make will still live to see our great grandchildren. This message is what environmental activist and entrepreneur Lauren Singer wants to address. 

In 2015, Lauren‘s story first went viral when she showed the 16 oz mason jar that contained all the trash she accumulated in 3 years. This all began during her senior year as an Environmental Studies student when she noticed that a girl in her class always had single use plastic to package her food or as utensils which made a lot of trash. After noticing that her fridge also had contents packaged in plastic, she made the bold decision to go zero waste. 

She knew that the journey of moving away from plastic was not easy and realized that the only way to do it was to make the products herself. By doing so, she reduced the need of running to the store every time she ran out of toothpaste, deodorant, and other essentials. 

Converting to a zero waste lifestyle allowed Lauren to reduce her waste, save more money, eat healthier, and live happier all while saving the environment. She continues to spread awareness for her cause through her blog “Trash is for Tossers” and self-made company, The Simply Co., that sells environmentally friendly and zero waste products. 

“I live a zero waste lifestyle because to me, it’s the best way I know how to live a life that aligns with everything I believe in. I’m just one person. What difference can I make? I want to be remembered for the things that I did while I was on this planet, and not for the trash I left behind.”

5. Cherrie Atilano, 32

Photo from Changemakers’s website

Agriculture serves as the one of the prime drivers of the country’s economy. But as the industry grew into a monopoly, farmers have become one of the least paid workers with some earning less than P50 a day. This has inspired social entrepreneur Cherrie Atilano to create long term solutions that would give these unsung heroes the recognition they deserve.

After losing her father at a young age, Cherrie’s mother was forced to provide for her five children by working in a sugarcane farm in Negros Occidental. Witnessing children her age work in the fields sparked her passion about farming. At the age of 12, she found herself teaching farmers about the low-income costs of backyard farming after reading about it in a book. 

Cherrie then went on to study agriculture as a scholar and working student at the Visayas State University. Against all odds, she graduated at the top of her class, was the first woman recipient of a leadership award in her university, and was the first in Region 8 to be included in the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines.

Despite a high-paying job in Makati, she chose to work with Gawad Kalinga and build their food sufficiency program in the slums Manila and Bulacan where there was a lack of electricity and water. She was then selected to attend a small occasion in the Vatican where she had the chance to meet Pope Francis. It was this experience that inspired her to serve others and create AGREA, a social enterprise geared towards alleviating poverty in farming and fishing families and establishing food security in the Philippines.

Being an industry mostly dominated by males, Cherrie encourages women to take the bold step in leading the promising future of agriculture. Her cause for sustainable development has since been recognized and lauded by both national and international organizations as well as global ambassadors from Sweden and New Zealand. In 2019, she was also named as an ambassador of the United Nations Scaling Up Nutrition Movement. 

With Cherrie’s vision, AGREA continues to create its first replicable model of a one-island economy that is zero hunger, zero waste, and zero insufficiency.

“I make my commitment to secure nutrition by securing food sufficiency and security. Always make farming sexy by mentoring a lot of young people to venture in agriculture, empower women in agriculture to make sure proper nutrition starts from home, work on multi stakeholder partnerships on making sure nutrition will be a serious business to lower stunted growth and boost our human capital productivity, and invests in impactful agri-foods”.

6. Josh Mahinay, 33

Photo from Josh Mahinay’s website

Back-to-school seasons are all about new clothes, new shoes, and new bags. But not all children have the privilege to purchase a bag for themselves, let alone buy a new one every year. Filipino entrepreneur Josh Mahinay aims to champion education for young children one bag at a time. 

Prior to his success, Josh’s humble roots began in Zamboanga Sibugay where he experienced poverty at a young age. Growing up as the youngest of 9 children, he and some of his siblings had to live with relatives so they could keep going to school. 

In 2007, Josh gave up his legal assistant job in one of the Philippines’ leading companies and worked in the United States as a housekeeper to provide for his family. After shifting jobs from here and there, he finally ended up in the seasonal marketing department in a Los Angeles retail store. His hardworking spirit allowed him to sustain his mother’s medical needs and fund his annual trips to the Philippines. 

While on a trip in Mindanao, he saw a young boy carrying a plastic bag on his way to school which reminded him of his past. During his elementary years, he placed his things inside a striped plastic bag and carried it for the rest of his 10-kilometer journey to school. Every time it would rip off, he knocked on his neighbor’s doors to ask for a new one. The first time he received a bag empowered him to do better in school. Since then, he believed in the vision of witnessing every kid go to school with a proper school bag. 

Josh then left his job in Los Angeles and came back to the Philippines to start a business that would support the education of impoverished children. Today, he continues to pay it forward through his BEAGIVER Ventures, Inc. enterprise wherein every bag purchased is equivalent to another bag given to a poor child among their partner schools. To date, they have helped more than 67,500 school children across 196 schools and communities in the country. 

Apart from their bag drives, BEAGIVER also continues to adhere to their vision by providing scholarships to school kids, water tanks and solar lamps to rural communities, school boats to teachers in remote islands, and cultural preservation projects for indigenous communities.

“All of us have something to contribute in nation-building. Nobody is too poor to give, nobody is too young to start something, nobody is too busy to serve and nobody is too ordinary to do great things.”

With all that said, it is safe to say that today’s era of millennials and Gen Zs are a force to be reckoned with. Rather than sitting behind closed doors waiting for solutions, they have learned to use innovation and creativity to instigate the change they want for the future they want to see. And this is only the beginning. As more young and eager minds are inspired to also step forward and lead global movements and advocacies towards transformational change, it is more than enough to say that even in these trying times the future is still worth looking forward to. 



How June 2020 defined the world in this “new normal”

In response to current events, others have found a significant boost as people came together to express outrage and push for social change.



Artwork by Patricia Jardin

While the world is essentially glued to their smartphones, computers, televisions, and radios, no injustice comes unrecognized as the public closely watches each event unfold and passionately seeks accountability from those responsible.

June 2020 has been yet another rollercoaster of events all over the world as each country does their best in trying to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. It has brought out the ills of society and made people express their dissent and outrage at the respective responses of their leaders. With people spending more time on social media, the existing system has been subject to even deeper scrutiny causing the rise in awareness for problems that have persisted even before the pandemic struck.

Movements have been organized, with respect of course to social-distancing, aiming to address these issues on the international level. Beginning way before the quarantine and lockdown, some have found themselves gaining even more attention and support with most of the world glued to the internet. And in response to current events, others have found a significant boost as people came together to express outrage and push for social change.

1. Black Lives Matters Protests

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

A movement dating back to 2013, Black Lives Matter started as a response to the killing of Trayvon Martin caused by a suspicion of his eventual shooter, George Zimmerman. The movement has since been a strong voice of each racially-driven crime and a loud response towards the subsequent death of Eric Garner and others. 

This time, it serves as a response to the killing of George Floyd, who died of police brutality after being pinned to the ground with a knee over his neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. This event that prompted mass protests over racism and police brutality has touched everyone all over the globe, including prominent Filipino personalities such as Chris Ross, Joe Devance, and Kobe Paras among others.

2. Hong Kong Protests

Photo by Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Stemming as far back as March 2019, the Hong Kong protests were primarily about upholding the democratic freedom and independence of Hong Kong. Initially starting as a protest against an extradition bill, it had quickly become a larger movement even after the bill had been dropped. 

Currently, it has taken the worldwide stage again with concerns of police brutality being rampant as the government tries to silence the protesters through shootings led by officers as well as countless arrests of protesters. Still, all these are being endured by protesters to fight for Hong Kong’s independence and democracy.

3. #SpeakingOut Movement

Photo from CBR

Professional wrestlers are typically known for bringing the action in the ring. This time, however, these larger than life characters are bringing the fight outside the ring and into social media with the #SpeakingOut movement.

Originating from stories of harassment and abuse in the UK pro-wrestling scene, the movement branched out into the US scene. Numerous stories have been posted and tweeted about abuse from trainers or misconduct from other pro-wrestlers towards fans and co-workers. These allegations prompted companies who have hired these wrestlers to suspend or terminate them from future shows.

4. The battle against COVID-19

Photo from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Serving as the proverbial push that set the vigilance of the world in motion, the over 3-month battle against COVID-19 has been the biggest example of the world’s unity and division.

Although some countries have seen tremendous success in containing the cases, others have seen a surge after attempting to re-open day-to-day operations. To prevent further spread of disease, businesses have considered using other means of payment and service to limit risks. This brought out the resourcefulness of business-owners coming up with innovative solutions to this problem while also minimizing lay-offs and for some, accommodating even more employees.

5. Mass lay-offs and economic recession

Photo from Forbes & Getty Images

With the closing of public establishments, profit losses are simply inevitable. This has caused companies to lay-off employees and for businesses in all scales to give pay-cuts or even shut down entirely.

Numerous businesses have considered shutting down operations due to their inability to pay their bills and employees, while some industries, like the food industry, found solutions in utilizing delivery services to continue serving their customers albeit on a lower scale. Other struggling industries found themselves backed against a corner as safety measures continued to prevent operations. Resorts and hotels have temporarily used their accommodations to shelter incoming OFWs for quarantine. Also, transport services have been utilized as shuttle services for companies operating under quarantine policies in the Philippines.

6. Brands pull ads out of Facebook

Photo by SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Recently, big name brands have decided to pull their ads from Facebook citing concerns over misinformation and hate speech.

Popular brands and companies, such as Unilever and Coca-Cola, have decided to boycott Facebook over hate speech in line with the recent Black Lives Matter protests. Concerns over political biases that Facebook have helped propagate over the years have also been raised. This pledge is in response to countless demands and requests for Facebook to better moderate the content that is published on its platform. Owing to public pressure, Facebook promised to tighten its content policies.

7. Facebook “fake accounts” fiasco

Photo from Rappler

While calls for change picked up steam all over the world, the Philippines has had its own share of battles, ironically not with the virus that has brought the world to its knees in the past months.

Earlier this month, numerous Facebook accounts which appeared to be clones of existing accounts, started to surface on the website and raised concern amongst citizens voicing their displeasure with the proposed Anti-Terror Bill. As a response, affected citizens banded together, making Facebook groups to mass report these fake accounts. There have also been efforts to create websites or tools designed to track and index these accounts based on their predictable format. 

8. Philippines’ transition from ECQ to GCQ

Photo from the Philippine National Police

Months after placing NCR and other regions under ECQ, President Duterte finally lifts the status of the community quarantine to GCQ, but not without consequences.

Last month, the president decided to lower the status of the country from ECQ to MECQ. A while later, he placed NCR and other areas under GCQ in hopes of boosting the economy after the decline under the ECQ period. This has sent thousands of workers back to the streets looking for a way to get to their workplace. Some employees wound up having to walk hours due to the lack of transport options while others waited long hours for the shuttle buses to arrive. The increase in foot traffic has unsurprisingly caused a surge in positive cases which has become a cause for concern for individuals all over the country.

9. Ballooning of national debt

Photo from FreePik

Citing lack of funds for medical response and relief efforts, President Duterte loaned hundreds of millions of dollars to aid in the country’s COVID-19 response.

In the president’s numerous addresses to the public, he has claimed the shortage of funds for the COVID-19 response efforts. Since then, multiple loans reaching millions of dollars have been made almost on a weekly basis. This has sparked concern for most as the increase in the national debt could be detrimental to the country moving forward. Numerous groups have sought reports stating the use of funds as, despite the loans, many families have yet to receive relief packages and subsidies. Multiple anomalies within local government units have also caused citizens to protest the distribution scheme for relief goods and subsidies.

10. Anti-Terror Bill and the fight for freedom of expression

Photo by JL Javier/CNN Philippines

Neither mutually exclusive nor inclusive, this has been the greatest concern of citizens this month of June. 

Earlier this month, President Duterte placed the Anti-Terror bill as urgent in line of perceived terrorist threat both inside and outside of the country. This has raised concern, however, in light of the countless abuses and anomalies in the laws present today, namely the violations made regarding COVID-19 protective measures by PNP Chief Major General Debold Sinas as well as Senator Koko Pimentel. Some lawmakers as well as most citizens fear that the enactment of this law could lead to abuse and the silencing of the president’s critics. In response, a “grand mañanita” was set into motion on June 12 to protest against the bill as well as the other injustices made by the administration.

11. The verdict on Maria Ressa and Rey Santos Jr.

Photo by Dante Diosina Jr/Rappler



Maria Ressa and Rey Santos Jr. of Rappler were recently convicted for cyber libel in what is seen as a clear attack on press freedom in the country.

An article from May 2012 has put Rappler in hot water after Wilfredo Keng filed a case for cyber libel against them years after its publication. Since then, Rappler has exhausted all possible avenues to fight against the conviction citing points such as the cybercrime prevention law not even being an actual law when the article was published. Despite these efforts, Maria Ressa and the article’s author Rey Santos Jr. were ultimately found guilty for committing cyber libel. Journalists from universities as well as from major networks protested this stating how it is an attack on press freedom and an oppression of journalists in the country.

12. #FreePride20

Photo by the League of Filipino Students

Finally, one of the marquee movements of this month is the Pride March which needs no introduction about what it stands for.

#FreePride20 made its rounds on social media after 20 individuals were arrested during the annual Pride march held in Mendiola. The arrested members from the organizations Bahaghari, Gabriela Philippines, and Karapatan were expressing their dissent towards the government’s recent actions, particularly on the passing of the Anti-Terrorism Bill which posed a risk to the country’s freedom of expression. The Commission on Human Rights has stated that they will perform an investigation regarding these arrests after organizations expressed their concerns over the police apprehending the protesters without a warrant.

13. NTC orders shutdown of Sky Cable operations

Photo by the Daily Tribune

After successfully terminating the broadcast of ABS-CBN in May, the NTC with the advice of Solicitor General Jose Calida is now setting its sights on shutting down the biggest satellite TV service in the country.

ABS-CBN ended its broadcast on free TV last May 5 after receiving a cease and desist order from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). Since then, hearings have taken place with lawmakers questioning Sky Cable’s continued operations despite ABS-CBN being off-air. If the shutdown of Sky Cable (and ABS-CBN TV Plus) pushes through, 55 million citizens will directly be affected. Foremost of these are families who live in areas where other television networks have poor or no reception at all that need information amidst this pandemic.

Having more time to spend keeping up-to-date with the latest news has given us the opportunity to better understand what is happening in the world and in the country. The social injustices that have been brought to the forefront because of recent events should be enough reason to speak out and demand actions. It is part of our duty as citizens of the Philippines to be vocal about the injustices in our country. Protesting, whether physical or virtual, brings a strong voice to demand solutions to these problems. 

Although protests have drawn the ire of some, considering them as irresponsible acts that could lead to a greater spread of the disease, this month’s events have shown that making their voices heard while taking proper safety precautions is still possible. The strong military force placed as a response to protests show that they are indeed being heard by those that they are meant for. While some lawmakers and law enforcers label these protesters as terrorists, it needs to be known and heard that activism is not terrorism.


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Should intersex individuals be included in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum?

Because of their condition, intersex people are not immune to social prejudices and stigma for failing to conform to gender norms. If the simple ticking of a box as ‘M’ or ‘F’ is a struggle for them, just imagine the greater pressure of having to continue a career under an identity they do not completely believe in.



Artwork by Ana Victoria Ereño

The first question parents often ask doctors is the gender of their unborn baby. According to the United Nations, more than 360,000 babies are born each day. In school, we were once taught that sex and gender are binary. As society gradually progresses towards equality, we come to realize and accept that the world is not only filled with Mars and Venus but also a combination of both and so much more.

The LGBTQIA+ continues to grow as a community as more individuals of various sexualities and gender identities are welcomed. Often included in the spectrum are intersex individuals who comprise about 1.7% of the world’s population. While some LGBTQIA+ groups and organizations prefer not to exclude the “I”, there have been debates whether it is logically correct to include intersex individuals in the expanding community.

Intersex is an umbrella term referring to persons who are biologically born with disorders of sexual development in which there are variations in their sexual, chromosomal, hormonal, and reproductive characteristics. This simply means that they both have biological male and female traits thus, making it difficult to distinguish them as traditional male or female. For instance, an intersex person may appear to carry female genitalia on the outside, but internally has XY (male) chromosomes. 

For years, doctors have concealed to parents the true conditions of their intersex children to the point that they would lie about it.

Intersex activist Pidgeon Pagonis was born with an intersex condition known as androgen insensitivity syndrome. Rather than truthfully saying that Pidgeon has internal testes, doctors convinced their parents that their gonads might be cancerous if not removed and that their genitalia was not medically normal. Since the age of one, they were subjected to various corrective surgeries to alter their genitalia.

Because of their condition, intersex people are not immune to social prejudices and stigma for failing to conform to gender norms. If the simple ticking of a box as ‘M’ or ‘F’ is a struggle for them, just imagine the greater pressure of having to continue a career under an identity they do not completely believe in.   

South African Olympian Mokgadi Caster Semenya is an intersex individual born with XY chromosomes who publicly identifies as female. At only 18 years old, she won gold in the women’s 800 meters category at the 2009 World Championships. However, her victory was not always sweet as her win and record-breaking speed sparked suspicions and public scrutiny with some competitors, sports analysts, and media outlets calling her a man and a hermaphrodite–a term now considered to be a derogatory slur among intersex people.

Semenya was then subjected to a multitude of sex verification tests and incessantly analyzed by numerous experts. With her medical history even being divulged to the public without her consent, it seems as though her body was placed on display for everyone to gawk at and criticize. The IAAF World Athletics governing body stated that for her to be able to continue competing, she would then have to take hormonal medication to dial down her testosterone levels. However, she can also choose to compete with men without restrictions. 

Intersex bodies have been pathologized just as how homosexuals and transgenders have been treated in the past decades. Adding the “I” in the ever-growing LGBTQIA+ acronym could be a step forward for intersex visibility within society and allow more people to become aware and, eventually, more accepting of the conditions and realities faced by an intersex person.

The ostracism and problematic treatment of intersex persons have also been rooted with transphobia, homophobia, and sexualism. Being considered as part of the community would greatly contribute to educating society to recognize and counteract these cultural attitudes that could hopefully also create a safe space for them together with sexual and gender minorities that share their struggles.

While many believe that these reasons can suffice their acceptance into the LGBTQ+ movement, concerns were raised regarding this matter.

Pagonis and Dr. Alice Dreger of the Feinberg School of Medicine clarify that intersex is not a sexual orientation or a gender identity, but rather a biological sexual variation. They believe that including them in the spectrum would give the misconception that intersex people are inherently gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Some intersex people are, but some are not. This assumption has also caused the term intersex to be commonly misused as a synonym for transgender. The intersex community seeks to find their own recognition and intersex-specific treatment in society. Hence, including them in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum could further conflate the two and prevent them from receiving the proper and concrete attention towards their demands such as obtaining legal recognition of their sex in birth certificates.

Moreover, if placed under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella, some parents might have the misperception that their intersex child would transition as homosexual or experience psychological distress in the future because of gender dysphoria. Because of the queerantagonistic society we live in, it is not impossible for parents to pressure or even force to go under the knife and normalize their ambiguous genitalia—a common lived reality among many intersex individuals. This would, however, do more harm than good to the child as these relentless and irreversible corrective surgeries might sterilize them and cause them to take numerous medications in the future as an adult.

The reality of being an intersex person is very complex that even these individuals find difficulty to comprehend at first. Similar to how Caster Semenya chooses not to publicly identify as intersex, they are also entitled to their own decision to either include or exclude themselves from the LGBTQIA+ community based on their own opinions and motivations as an intersex person.

Whichever path they choose, this illuminated debate tells us that there is a need for more conversations regarding intersex people as their plea is a case of both social injustice and human rights issues in medicine and civil society. Thus, the question does not only lie in whether we should include them in the community, but also in whether we engage ourselves enough in conversations about their experiences to fully understand their reasons of wanting to be or not to be included.

The “I” in LGBTQIA+ should not stand for “invisible” and it is our job as a society to keep it that way. In this long fight for equality, our effort to educate ourselves on these matters plays a role in protecting future intersex infants and children from nonconsensual surgeries and ensuring that no intersex individual would be compelled to live a life of secrecy, shame, and trauma.



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Harry Potter and the Audacity of J.K. Rowling: A Look on Transphobia and Selective Feminism

J.K. Rowling’s support on transphobic beliefs is problematic. Her act of publicly attacking transgender rights is a disregard for the LGBT+ community, especially during Pride month⁠—a celebration made possible by trans pioneers.



Artwork by Maria Juvice Buñag

Social media has become a space to spread our activism. From the recent #BlackLivesMatter protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd and many other black people at the hands of American police to the #HijaAko hashtag against victim blaming and rape culture, social media became a powerful tool to spread advocacies and make our voices heard. 

While social media is a great avenue for activism, it can be also used to spread harmful ideas like racism, sexism, homophobia, and others. With just one post, you can see if the people you follow have some backward beliefs, or in J.K. Rowling’s case, transphobic beliefs.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling came under fire after a string of transphobic tweets, which ended in a 3,600 word essay against trans activism. Her transphobic tirades not only spread wrong notions about the trans community, but also endanger them by promoting exclusion of trans people.

“TERF Wars”

The transphobia issue with Rowling started with a tweet last June 7 wherein the author shared an article about providing safe spaces for “people who menstruate,” together with a caption implying that only women menstruate.

“‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” she wrote.

People were quick to call out Rowling, pointing out that some men menstruate and some women don’t, and that menstruation is not a basis of womanhood but is a biological function not strictly reserved to cis women.

Rowling then tweeted about biological sex saying that if it isn’t real, then same-sex attraction also isn’t. And in saying so, the struggles of women all over the world are also erased. 

“I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of meaningfully discuss their lives,” she tweeted.

The series of transphobic tweets ended with a 3,600 word essay with the caption “TERF Wars.”

The term “TERF” refers to Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. In summary, TERFs believe that trans men and women are not real men and women. They also believe in excluding trans women in women’s spaces, such as fitting rooms and restrooms, because of the notion that trans women are a threat to women’s safety. People like Rowling claim that TERF is a slur used to silence female voices, but in reality, the term is just like “racist” or “misogynist” used to call people with backward beliefs.

In the essay, Rowling talked about five reasons for speaking up on “trans activism,” namely her charity, her experience as a former teacher, her interest in free speech, and her worry about the huge increase of women who want to transition. She also wrote of her experience as an abuse survivor as she is concerned for the “consequences of the current trans activism,” particularly for the safety of women from a “man who believes or feels he’s a woman.”

Rowling then wrote about gender dysphoria, saying that she could have also transitioned into a trans man when she was younger. She proceeded to talk about people being “influenced” to become a transgender, attributing the choice of people to identify as trans to a case of “gender dysphoria.” In the process, she repeatedly referred to cisgender women as “biological” and “natal” women, seemingly implying that trans women are unnatural or contrary to nature.

This is not the first time that Rowling was accused of transphobia. Last December, the author tweeted support for Maya Forstater, a researcher who lost her job for her transphobic tweets.  She also “accidentally” liked an article describing trans women as “men in dresses.” Under the pseudonym Robert Gailbraith, she wrote a scene in her book The Silkworm where the main character threatens a trans character prison time, along with implied threat of prison rape.

Many people slammed Rowling’s statements. Actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, who played in the Harry Potter films, spoke in support of transgender people. Fantastic Beasts actor Eddie Redmayne as well as Harry Potter actors Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, Chris Rankin, and Katie Leung also spoke out on Rowling’s issue.


J.K. Rowling’s support on transphobic beliefs is problematic. Her act of publicly attacking transgender rights is a disregard for the LGBT+ community, especially during Pride month⁠—a celebration made possible by trans pioneers.

The Stonewall riots of June 1969, the first Pride march and a pivotal moment for gay rights movement, was credited to trans activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Legend says that Marsha P. Johnson threw the first brick (or shot glass) that started the riots. 

Also, with trans people being murdered for their identity, Rowling’s tirades contribute nothing to the safety of the trans community. According to a report in 2019, there are at least 331 reported cases of trans killings. Among them are Filipina trans women Jennifer Laude and Jessa Remiendo. 

Aside from violence, transgender people are also a target of discrimination, from workplaces to restrooms. Last July 2019, trans woman Aeron Jade Parena posted on Twitter about how she was reprimanded for dressing inappropriately, with her human resources manager insisting that she wear male clothes. Also, in August 2019, trans woman Gretchen Diez was arrested after being denied access to a restroom in a mall in Cubao. 

With trans people being discriminated against and killed all over the world, the fight for trans rights is still far from done. By enabling and spreading harmful statements against the trans community on her big platform, Rowling’s words indirectly put trans lives in danger.

On Death Eaters and Transphobes

For someone like J.K. Rowling to claim that she champions women’s rights is antithetical. What she did in her essay was to weaponize feminism against the trans community. She claimed that she had extensively researched on the topic of trans activism, yet she failed to provide credible sources and only made assumptions and hasty generalizations against the trans community, comparing being a transgender person to mere “gender dysphoria.” She presented the idea of people being indoctrinated on being trans, as if she’s saying that it is a mere choice comparable to choosing one’s clothing.

Exclusionary feminism is not real feminism. You cannot campaign for equal rights if you are excluding someone in your fight for “equal” rights. Excluding trans women from the feminist narrative means that the “equality” you are fighting for is not real equality after all.

Rowling painted a dangerous picture for the transgender community. By publicly airing her transphobic beliefs, she failed a generation that looked up to her writings. She failed Harry Potter fans with her talk of “biological women” that reeks of the same ideas of purebloods and mudbloods spouted by the Death Eaters in her novel. She failed a generation inspired by Harry Potter, a generation who grew up listening to stories of toppling backward beliefs and standing up for what is right. 

As a generation who grew up with Harry Potter that fights oppressive systems and challenges backward ideas, we cannot let Rowling’s words spread the wrong ideas about the transgender community. Just like how Harry Potter fought Voldemort, we can all counter transphobia by advocating for true equality—one that is not selective and exclusionary, but is welcoming regardless of race and gender.


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