The Defensor Family Speaks On Acceptance And The LGBTQ+ Community
Four years ago, at about 10pm, my eldest daughter, Mikee, asked if she and her siblings (Mico, Miguel, Juliana and Mica) could have a word with me. Miguel was leaving for London the next day. They were all in my daughter’s bedroom, including my wife Julie. Their eyes were puffed from crying but there was silence in the room. I sensed there was more to Miguel’s leaving so I asked what the problem was. Mikee turned to Miguel who said instead, “Ate [respectful Filipino title for elder sister], you be the one to tell Dad.” Mikee then said, “Miguel is a trans [transgender person].”
I immediately hugged Miguel and told her that I love her, and nothing will change that. But I also said that because she is a girl now, my standards for her will change. My rules for girls are different from boys. I guess I am sexist in that way.
I grew up in a very tough environment, with informal settlers as playmates. Even then, I already had friends who were transgender people. In college at UP Diliman, things were different. There was a sense of openness where critical and liberal thinking were recognised and a general acceptability of the LGBT community. Many believed that character and not sexual preference defines a person.
If Miguel’s being a trans was a non-issue to me, my wife took the news differently. She was silent and on the verge of crying. She said that she worried for our daughter and her future family. I told her not to be as all the more we must express our love and support to Miguel (or Mel or M as we also call her today, although the nomenclature does not really bother her) lest she feels rejection.
I’m proud of all my children. I love them and I nurture them to be the best that they could be. They may like nice things but they are not materialistic. They are respectful, kind, humble and with a charitable heart. We pray as a family and we spend as much time as we can together. Academically, I make sure that they get the best education. Mel, for one, graduated as a Headmasters Awardee in high school in the UK and got top awards for economics, psychology and English. In college, she again graduated with honours and is now applying for a master’s degree for her continuing education.
There were no negative reactions from family and friends. My Dad was one of the first to accept her. There was a little friction about fashion, but that was basically it. To be honest,
if anyone reacted differently, they would have had to deal with me.
For those who find themselves in a similar situation as I, all I can tell them is to love your children as parents should. We are blessed to have them, and we should never show any rejection or rebuff evenas they have a different sexual orientation. When you show them love and respect, you are unleashing the potential of greatness of what your child could become.