A transwoman in the people's army

This article is available in PilipinoBisaya

For more than a year now, Ka Daisy, a transwoman, has served as full-time Red fighter. She joined the New People’s Army (NPA) during the pandemic, three years after doing revolutionary work as a member of the Kabataang Makabayan. She recounted how her unit got engaged in an armed encounter on her second day in the unit.

Ka Daisy, also called “Inday” by some comrades, now serves as a squad political guide. As an official, she ensures the strengthening of the organization. She helps outline plans and programs, and ensures its implementation. She also performs daily technical tasks such as fetching water, cooking, and transporting supply.

“I have total respect for Ka Daisy,” said Ka Alas, her squad leader. “Apart from being helpful, she teaches well. Since her deployment here, she took to teaching me LitNum (literacy/numeracy). Because I’m quite past my prime, I sometimes forget our lessons, but Inday keeps encouraging me to learn.”

Ka Daisy was warmly received by comrades as a new recruit. On her part, she was able to quickly adapt to the NPA’s military regulations.

“Even before I joined the unit, comrades were oriented about my gender. They had study meetings about the LGBT struggle,” said Ka Daisy. In her unit, instructors include the LGBT orientation when giving basic military orientation. This aims to correct wrong views and treatment of LGBTs. Some misconceptions still manifest, but these are collectively struggled in a structured and comradely manner.

Like other comrades, Ka Daisy carries a heavy pack. Her bag contains printed reading materials such as Ang Bayan and other documents and books, kitchen materials, supplies and gadgets. Thrown in the mix is her make-up kit.

“Whenever we undertake mass work, we distribute documents like AB to update the masses on important social issues,” she said.

If asked how many women are in the unit, comrades would include Ka Daisy. It was a far cry from her experiences when she was still studying in a Catholic school. She experienced restrictions and gender-based discrimination. She was prohibited to wear the clothes she prefer and had to cut her long hair short.

Within the NPA, Ka Daisy is happy to be part of forging a society that has compassion and concern for transwomen like her. For her, gender is a non-issue for one to wage revolution. It is not a hindrance nor is it a basic question. It is not a matter of competing. It is enough for one to dedicate one’s heart and time to serve the revolution.

“As an LGBT youth, our role is important in advancing the revolution. To change society’s perception, we need to transform society itself,” she added.

In waging revolution, Ka Daisy can freely express her true feelings. During the 50th anniversary of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, she led celebrations in the guerilla front. She served as a facilitator of the program and decorated the venue. She was also one of the instructors for the dance and song cultural performances. Because of the special nature of the occasion, Ka Daisy put on some lipstick, face powder and eyeliner.

Hundreds of peasants from nearby barrios graced the occasion.

In the area of responsibility of Ka Daisy’s unit, there are a few LGBT members who belong to basic Party organs in the barrio. They actively took part in cultural performances and were open to socialize with the Red fighters.

Ka Daisy was so surprised to find someone like her, an LGBT, who is also a Red fighter.

“I have long known that the NPA accepts LGBT people like me. I am delighted finally to have met someone who came from the community. I thought I was alone here,” she jokingly said.

Indeed everyone has equal rights and responsibilities in the movement. In a society that oppresses and judges LGBT people, it is only in the revolution that they can experience genuine freedom to be themselves.

A transwoman in the people's army