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UP Manila students to be able to dress according to gender identity and use lived name on graduation day

By Yoniel Acebuche Published Jul 18, 2023 7:59 pm

The University of the Philippines Manila University Student Council (UPM USC) is seeking to recognize the gender identities of students in the upcoming university graduation ceremony. This would include allowing students to wear clothing that aligns with their gender identity and using their lived names, or the names they go by, during graduation.

The request comes after several other UP branches—of UP Diliman, UP Los Baños, UP Cevu, UP Visayas, and UP Mindanao—have already begun recognizing the gender identities of their students. However, UPM USC has been hesitant to do so, citing concerns about the potential reaction of parents.

"Baka magkaroon ng instances ng 'di acceptable sa magulang," said the Office of the University Registrar (OUR).

The USC argues that the decision should be student-centered and that parents should not be able to dictate how their children identify themselves. However, the OUR has said that the request can only be granted if there is a document proving the approval of the student's parents.

The USC is currently in the process of drafting a proposal that would outline its request in more detail. It hopes that the OUR will be able to approve their request so that all students can be able to celebrate their graduations in a way that is authentic to themselves.

"Adults naman ang students so baka ‘di na need ng consent of the parent; baka [may] hindi good parental relations," the USC argued. 

As the meeting proceeded, the student council agreed on the idea of having a document showing parental approval to use students' lived names. However, UPM USC will pursue to have these requests automatically approved upon the consent of the students alone through legal advice. 

"The UPM USC will seek legal advice on allowing students to use their lived names based on their sole consent given that they are adults," the council said in a Facebook post. 

Last 2021, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (OVCAA) of UP Diliman issued a directive that recognizes the inclusion of and affirms transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) students.

According to the UP Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (UPCGWS) guidelines, the term TGNC refers to people whose gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth and those whose gender expression does not match their gender identity, respectively.

It further pointed out that TGNC members often live by a name (or "lived name") that affirms their gender identity and/or expression, and this is usually different from their legal name.

"They may also use pronouns and titles that reflect their gender identity expression. However, these aren't limited to feminine (e.g. she/her) and masculine (e.g. he/him) pronouns and titles, because many TGNC people use singular they/them pronouns," the guidelines explain.

Graduates of UPM are set to march on August 7, 2023.