Transgender chairperson candidate vows to “make history” in UP Diliman

This is a press statement from UP Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran

For the first time in the student council elections history of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, a candidate is running against two fraternity men and a woman to become the first transgender Chairperson of UP Diliman’s University Student Council (USC).

Speaking before hundreds of supporters at the historical Palma Hall Steps, Gabriel Paolo “Heart” Diño vowed to bring genuine change in UP Diliman if she’s given the chance to win as USC Chairperson.

“I came here not only to speak about what changes we want in our University Student Council. I also stand before you to remind that you, yourselves, are the change this university and this nation needs,” Diño said.

Diño then recalled how her experiences as a transgendered woman have motivated her to run as USC Chairperson and lead the student in making change in the university’s student institutions.

“As a teenager, I endured stigma and discrimination from my classmates and peers because of my gender. And when I entered college, it is in UP where I got the opportunity to be accepted and grow. So serving the students in the student council for the past two years has been my way of thanking UP for embracing who I am,” Diño said. She is the current Councilor and Gender Committee Head of the USC for the Academic Year 2011-2012. Previously, she was the Councilor of the UP College of Science Student Council from 2010-2011.

“UP has never been the university of the status quo. With issues such as gender discrimination, transparency and accountability in the USC’s finances, and the strings of fraternity-related violence in campus this year, it is high time that we become the change for a better UP,” Diño concludes.

The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP) recently expressed its support for the candidacy of Diño.

“While we are aware that much more still needs to be done towards the equality of men and women in the Philippines, the candidacy of Heart is a testament to the progress that has been gained in the struggle for sexual rights in our country. As smart, highly capable and exemplary young leaders, they embody the best of the transpinay,” STRAP said in its statement.

In a separate statement, UP Babaylan, the biggest LGBT organization in UP Diliman, also released a statement in support of Diño. “Transgenders like Heart are oftentimes treated unfairly because of who they are and because of their gender and sexuality. As a leader, Heart embodies the soul of UP – the Iska who can excel to catalyze change, one who could bring about change, if we are willing to accept our differences,” UP Babaylan said.

Diño is running under the banner of UP Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran (UP ALYANSA).