Trans candidate makes history by winning seat in Philippines election

A transgender candidate has made history in being elected by the House of Representatives in the Philippines with a large majority.

Geraldine Roman said before the count that she wanted to overcome prejudice and discrimination in her country to be elected

She is the first trans person to be elected to a public office in the Philippines.

With 99 percent of the votes declared, the Liberal Party candidate has secured 62 percent of the vote.

The 49-year-old transitioned over two decades ago.

She won the seat in Bataan, northern Philippines.

Roman says she ran a serious campaign, and that her popularity was based on her policies and experience.

Her mother previously held the seat, and served the maximum of three terms.

“The ideal situation is where gender is not an issue and we can focus on the platform, the agenda and the personality and the character of each candidate,” Roman told Reuters just before voting day.

“That’s what is important, not the gender really,” she added.

Her popularity and campaign were considered a breakthrough in themselves in the staunchly Catholic country.

While the Catholic church in the Philippines has not made a strong stand against trans issues, it has spoken out against equal marriage.

Roman says she has been smeared by rival candidates, she said, but has still received a friendly reception from the public.

She says she does not want to make a statement through her candidacy but hopes to pick up her mother’s legacy.

“At the start, my opponents are trying to convert my gender into an issue and it turns out that people don’t mind,” Roman added.

“People look beyond the gender and look at what you offer and what’s in your heart. That is the most important thing.”

The Catholic Church of the Philippines earlier this year defended boxing champ Manny Pacquiao over homophobic comments.

The eight-time world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao has sparked criticism in the Philippines after describing gay couples as “worse than animals”.

He has since apologised for offence caused, then later doubled down, standing by his comments. 

Pacquiao was subsequently was dropped by sponsor Nike, which described the comments as “abhorrent”.