Singer and actor Ice Diño Seguerra says his confusion about gender labels led him to call himself as a lesbian after he came out in 2007. But he later realized he was a transgender man (he was designated female at birth and began his transition four years ago).
Ice explained, "Medyo nalito talaga ako sa gender [label] because syempre alam naman natin na in the Philippines, sa Tagalog bakla at tomboy, tama? So all the while I thought 'I was lesbian.' It all fell into place when I researched transgender — oh my God, I think this is me."
With his wife, Liza Dino, chairperson of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), present, Ice offered a peek at how he discovered his gender identity during the opening of Manila Med's Gender Diversity Center. It will be the first hospital in the country to focus on helping a person work out his gender identity; assess his or her biological sex; allow him or her to choose his or her sexual preference; and help them transition to that gender role.
During his talk, Ice revealed he was just in "kinder or nursery" when he felt "alam mo yung iba ka." He said he couldn't forget an incident when he went camping in Grade 5 that made him realize that he identified as a man.
"Lahat ng mga kabarkada ko naglalakad kami tapos naghubad kami ng top. Nakalimutan ko meron pala akong (bra) na dapat hindi pinapakita sa lahat."
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Growing up, Ice added he became a bit resentful that he couldn't take his shirt off like a man. "I coudn't be me." He was getting scolded for the way he dressed, walked and talked.
Ice recalled, "Gusto kong mag action star. Gusto ko actually maging sundalo, Walang specific person. I love watching action movies, ako si Luke Skywalker. Mahilig ako sa action film tapos kunwari, kung ano ‘yung palabas, ayun yung outfit ko."
Barbie dolls, however, were among the constant gifts he received. He would never play with Barbie without Ken. "So lagi ko silang pinagki-kiss at ako si Ken."
Those who were present at the launch along with Liza Diño-Seguerra and Ice Diño Seguerra (fifth and sixth from the left) were Bataan Representative Geraldine Roman (fourth from left), ManilaMed medical director Dr. Susana Padilla Campos (second from the left), and Bombit Dela Cruz, ManilaMed president (far right).
At the launch, ManilaMed’s medical director, Dr. Susana Padilla Campos, shared that when she first spoke to Ice about gracing the opening of the Gender Diversity Center, he was very generous and candid about sharing the struggles he had to face despite his celebrity status. It reaffirmed the hospital’s decision when Ice expressed how happy he is that such a facility now exists to serve the Filipino LGBTQ community.
Dr. Campos said the decision to open the center was not made lightly. On a personal level, it was the many conversations with her patients and their parents in her practice as a pediatric endocrinologist that opened her eyes to the atmosphere of fear and intolerance towards those in the LGBTQ community.
Dr. Campos shares that depression and suicidal thoughts are five times more common in the Gender Dysphoria group than it is in the general population.
According to its press release, ManilaMed's Gender Diversity Center does not aim to “fix” those who consult with them so that they conform to what society or even their families expect. The center wants a holistic approach, which means helping the loved ones of their patients to accept and embrace them as they go through treatment.
The center offers a comprehensive array of services such as psychological services and family counseling, hormone therapy, and eventually surgical management. Each case, which will handled with the utmost discretion, respect, and compassion, will be thoroughly assessed by a multi-disciplinary team. It has on board an adolescent pediatrician, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, an endocrinologist, a surgeon, a reconstructive surgeon, a urologist, and a family therapist.
To know if you need its assistance, the Gender Diversity Center asks three questions:
Do you have questions about your identity?
Have you been teased about the way you move, dress or speak?
Do you often feel tired, empty and anxious?
If your answers to these questions are "yes," Manila Med's Gender Diversity Center may be able to help you. Call +632 523-8131 to 65 local 3008.