Seaport Terminals in The Philippines Will Soon Have 'All Gender' Bathrooms

The move comes after a series of incidents relating to gender discrimination in recent months.
lgbtq rally philippines
A scene from an LGBTQ rally in the Philippines in 2018. Image via Wiki Commons.

When it comes to transgender rights, the Philippines has struggled. For one, several public officials have made controversial statements about trans rights. Discrimination towards LGBTQ people also runs rampant in the country, with 30 percent of the community reporting harassment at work because of their sexuality.

But it seems at least one government department is trying to change that. The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) said that by the end of August, seaport terminals throughout the Philippines will have “all gender” bathrooms.


PPA announced this move in a statement on August 20. The move is an attempt to promote gender inclusivity and awareness in the country. Each of the new facilities can be used by anyone, irrespective of gender.

“PPA recognizes the needs of all our port users and the agency will continue to adopt policies in order to bring comfort to the lives of the sea-going public regardless of gender preference or expression,” said Jay Daniel Santiago, PPA’s General Manager.

The gender-neutral bathrooms will also be implemented with existing facilities for people with disabilities. In these, those who have disabilities will get priority–but anyone can use the bathrooms, still.

According to Santiago and the PPA statement, the initiative has been in the works for several months.

“Our goal is to develop an environment of sensitivity and inclusivity for our personnel and our port users,” Santiago was quoted as saying.

This comes amid a recent high-profile incident of discrimination towards a transgender woman. On August 13, Gretchen Custodio Diez was arrested in a mall in Quezon City for trying to use the women’s bathroom. She was told by the mall’s janitor, “You have a penis. Remember that.”

Diez’s case isn’t an isolated incident. In the past few months, this sort of discrimination has been scrutinized by Filipinos who are outraged by a lack of inclusivity.

PPA's announcement also comes at the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte expressing support for “third restrooms” for LGBTQ+ people. Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte wanted a restroom exclusively for the community – “so that they have their own.”

But some members of the LGBTQ+ community don't think a "third restroom" is the solution. Diez told GMA Network that these restrooms might just further the intolerance trans people face.

“This is not what we need. We don’t need additional infrastructure,” she said. “We need acceptance. We need understanding.”

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