Transwomen in the Philippines are classified locally as ‘gay’. The specific word used might be ‘bakla’, ‘beki’, ‘bayot’, ‘bading’ or any one of several others, depending on location and dialect.
Here, ‘gay’ does not mean what it does in the West. It means you are male but not a man; that you have ‘green blood’. You are an unmasculine male. In Luzon, the most popular local term is ‘bakla’. Their lifestyle is called ‘kabaklaan’.
I’m at the local motorcycle repair shop where Sherwyn, a most competent mechanic and pleasant cove, is replacing a brake master cylinder on the Blaze. He first thought to replace only the seals, but he can’t find the right size. A new cylinder is 400 pesos, just under six quid, an unwell encephalopod. I just tell him to get on with it. Sherwyn works in the open space outside a motorcycle parts shop, where he seems to buy most of his stuff, although, as today, sometimes he has to go further afield. While I wait I sit on a wooden bench in the shade and observe the street life. Baklas soon begin to appear; it’s like they’re in the woodwork.