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Vice Ganda’s Toilet Dilemma

Those who watched the birthday episode of Gandang Gabi Vice last Sunday (30 March 2014) would have gotten to know the comedic superstar Vice Ganda more to the level of the personal during an interview with showbiz sisters Toni and Alex Gonzaga.

For a change, roles were reversed and the sisters were the ones asking the questions that fans apparently sent in.

One of these was down to the level of trivial but still allowed the audience to gain a valuable insight on the life of the transgender superstar; and that for all his wealth and fame, there are still prices to pay.

The question asked which washroom Vice uses – in public places, I suppose.

Most of us will probably be thinking that holding it in is a small price to pay if we had the kind of money that Vice Ganda has. Alex Gonzaga, probably not the quickest of wit, nevertheless put the dilemma in the proper context.
The comedian’s answer was contrived to draw guffaws; but it nonetheless offered insights into the lives of cross-dressing transgender males and also poked a jibe at homophobia in Philippine society.

He holds it in, Vice replied to the question. In other words, he prefers to go when he gets home rather than use either the male or female washrooms in public places.

The decision to do so, he explained, was based on past experiences.

When he used to go to male washrooms, long hair and made up as he used to be, then the males inside the washrooms all became wary that he was there to sneak a peek at their privates.

“Akalâ mo lagî sisilipan,” he snorted. Then he made a snide remark about chances being that he was better endowed. “Llamado” was the term he used.

Alex, the innocent younger sister, giggled.

There is a certain truism to this generalisation. Filipino culture is generally tolerant towards transvestism; but only insofar as transvestites are seen as gay – in the literal sense – personalities only too willing to poke fun at their own selves.

Long before Vice Ganda himself elevated the image of the transvestite to superstar status, Filipino audiences loved the funny baklâ characters Dolphy popularised in movies such as “Pacifica Falayfay” and “Fefita Fofonggay.”

The tolerance, however, does not extend to anything that has a sexual context. Hence, Vice Ganda’s jibes at homophobic males inside public washrooms.

To be fair, though, the reaction will in most likelihood be more of surprise than any real malice. A few months back, I had just taken a pee in a washroom of a local mall when this tall lady came in.

Her hair was dyed blonde; she was already tall even without the stiletto heels; had a pretty face with light make-up; and wore a light blouse over tight-fitting jeans.

She went straight to one of the urinals, pulled the zipper of her pants down and proceeded to pee – standing up!

It took a moment for the male mind to make something of a pretty girl peeing standing up. There were several other men inside the washroom; and while there were no malicious side remarks, everyone stayed warily away from the ‘lady.’

Suffice it to say that the raised eyebrows and the comical faces from suppressed laughter told a different story; so, in this regard, Vice Ganda was probably right. That said, the reaction was more surprise than malice.

Unless bathrooms are made available exclusively for cross-dressers, I suppose the more prudent thing will be for them to head straight for the cubicle lavatories. I think most Filipino men understand that even cross-dressers need to heed calls of nature.

Now Vice’s experiences in female washrooms, this is a bit more difficult to rationalise. Vice said that he would hear remarks like, “Ang kapal ng mukhâ!” For all we know, perhaps Vice was just making this up to draw laughter.

The truth of the matter is, for obvious reasons, a transvestite’s presence inside a female washroom lacks a sexual context. Any malicious remarks, if at all, will probably be from a lack of acceptance that the cross-dresser is of the same gender as the females inside the washroom.

Most of us will probably be thinking that holding it in is a small price to pay if we had the kind of money that Vice Ganda has. Alex Gonzaga, probably not the quickest of wit, nevertheless put the dilemma in the proper context.

“Magkakasakit ka!” she warned Vice. And this is never worth having all one’s wealth for.

[Footnote: The terms “transgender,” “transvestite” and “cross-dresser” are used interchangeably for the purposes of this article. Apologies if this lacks political correctness.]

Acknowledgment: Top photo captured from ABS-CBN News video on YouTube.

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