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Sh u n n ed Transgender in t he Philippines By Rachel Gal vin

It seems to be in the news daily these days ? transgender, a term that was known perhaps by a select group not so long ago has now gone mainstream with people, from Laverne Cox, of ?Orange is the New Black? to Bruce Jenner taking center stage as being transgender. So with this being a hot topic, it is the coincidentally the perfect time for a documentary about the topic. Janice Villarosa's documentary ?Shunned? is an informative and emotional look at the issue. She interviews several women in the Philippines who identify as the opposite gender, talking about how they were born and the many issues they have dealt with, from abuse to bullying to rape 13 and beyond, and how they have moved beyond these

M ay 2015

tragedies in their lives. Villarosa has always focused on justice. She started her film career after a friend of hers was incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. Since then, she has done several films on societal issues, like domestic and sexual violence. When asked why she chose this topic, she said, ?While I was in film school, I saw a lot of transgender women. I was drawn to them but, at the same time, I did not know what to think or how to react. I realized I was judging them. I felt that the only way to stop discriminating against them was by immersing myself in their culture and trying to understand them.? Since she began this journey, she has become ?a mother hen? to those in the community and determined to speak out about the issues they face every day. She explained, ?I am a member of a number of transgender groups and, every day, I see posts about people wanting to commit suicide, harm being done to them or, worse, being murdered. I am determined to get their voice out.? The film she hopes will enlighten those who are not as familiar with the community, much like Villarosa once was not. Villarosa, who is from the Phillipenes, found those who participated in the documentary by calling the organizers of the many pageants which are held for transgender women in the area, as well as an advocate group called COLORS who got her in touch with some of the women. In addition, she hung out at ?transgender bars.? The making of the film was a process of discovery and eye-opening. She said, ?Everything to me was a revelation since I did not know anything about the transgender community. When they started opening up to me about their background, it surprised me quite a bit. For example, this beautiful phenomenal dancer, Dimple, was

Independent Streak Magazine -- May 2015  
Independent Streak Magazine -- May 2015  

Within these pages, you will find a profile on actor Stelio Savante, a spotlight on the film "Shunned" about transgenders in Philippines, Ce...