From Deviant to Bakla, Strong to Stronger: Mainstreaming Sexual and Gender Minorities into Disaster Risk Reduction in the Philippines

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This report is relevant for humanitarian practitioners because it demonstrates that including people with diverse SOGIE in DRR planning is not only possible, but makes projects better in the long run.

This article argues that DRR, and development as a whole, has been resistant to meaningfully considering the needs and experiences of sexual and gender minorities in their research, policy, programming and practice. The article opens with examples of why sexual and gender minority inclusion is a sectoral imperative, including the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The authors argue that a slow move towards the queering of development is increasing the inclusion of sexual and gender minorities, although a prevailing sense of reluctance hinders this process. The authors explain the ‘queering of development’, providing examples of significant barriers advances in this space. The connections between imposed western morals and the regulation of sexuality in developing contexts is noted.

The authors move into the Philippines case study, introducing the bakla (people who were assigned male at birth who claim a feminine identity and expression, and desire intimate relations with men) and the ways the identity of bakla have changed.

The specific role of bakla in DRR contexts is then explored with specific focus on the ability of bakla to build widespread social networks through their ability to switch between socially ascribed male to female roles. The authors discuss the challenges bakla face in DRR settings, specifically around shelter and needs in emergency accommodation, before considering the case study.

The case study of an Integrated Rural Development Fund (IRDF) project in Barangay (a rural area of the Philippines) is then introduced and discussed. IRDF specifically included bakla in the project, initiating dialogue between bakla youth and the rest of their community, government, school representatives and scientists using map-making technology.

The authors conclude that meaningful inclusion of sexual and gender minorities is an imperative, not only because they continue to be marginalised in DRR and development work, but because sexual and gender minorities have a great deal to offer DRR and development work, and are capable change agents.

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"Sexual and gender minorities are still placed within a stigmatised and excluded position in society and consequently fulfil stereotypical roles based upon heteronormative social expectations. This means that they are often forced ‘to circulate within “shadow” sexual networks where sexual encounters are necessarily anonymous and casual’, guiding them into a vicious cycle where there is lack of accessibility to open social networking and a lack of legitimacy within society, which inevitably results in higher risk to any events or phenomena that may amplify hardships within daily life."

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This article argues that DRR, and development as a whole, has been resistant to meaningfully considering the needs and experiences of sexual and gender minorities in their research, policy, programming and practice. The article opens with examples of why sexual and gender minority inclusion is a sectoral imperative, including the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The authors argue that a slow move towards the queering of development is increasing the inclusion of sexual and gender minorities, although a prevailing sense of reluctance hinders this process. The authors explain the ‘queering of development’, providing examples of significant barriers advances in this space. The connections between imposed western morals and the regulation of sexuality in developing contexts is noted.

The authors move into the Philippines case study, introducing the bakla (people who were assigned male at birth who claim a feminine identity and expression, and desire intimate relations with men) and the ways the identity of bakla have changed.

The specific role of bakla in DRR contexts is then explored with specific focus on the ability of bakla to build widespread social networks through their ability to switch between socially ascribed male to female roles. The authors discuss the challenges bakla face in DRR settings, specifically around shelter and needs in emergency accommodation, before considering the case study.

The case study of an Integrated Rural Development Fund (IRDF) project in Barangay (a rural area of the Philippines) is then introduced and discussed. IRDF specifically included bakla in the project, initiating dialogue between bakla youth and the rest of their community, government, school representatives and scientists using map-making technology.

The authors conclude that meaningful inclusion of sexual and gender minorities is an imperative, not only because they continue to be marginalised in DRR and development work, but because sexual and gender minorities have a great deal to offer DRR and development work, and are capable change agents.