December 5, 2019 at 10:15 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Philippines president appoints transgender woman to government
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, first row, third from left, with Dindi Tan, first row, fourth from left. (Photo courtesy of Dindi Tan)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed a transgender woman to his government.

Dindi Tan, a long-time LGBTQ activist in the Philippines, is director of the country’s Department of Agrarian Reform. Tan had previously been the department’s assistant program manager.

Tan on Wednesday told the Washington Blade she is the first trans woman named to a position within the Philippine government.

“This is very big for our community here in the Philippines,” said Tan. “It sends a powerful message that the LGBT community is part of the government agenda and that the present administration remains committed to furthering equal rights for everyone.”

“By appointing LGBT leaders to positions of power in the bureaucracy, we will be able to incorporate our voices into the mainframe of the governmental processes,” added Tan.

Sass Rogando Sasot, a Philippine activist who lives in the Netherlands, is among those who applauded Tan’s appointment.

“Duterte just became the first president of the Philippines to appoint an out trans woman in a government position, and she’s a fucking fierce transgender rights advocate,” wrote Sasot on their Facebook page. “Dindi Tan, you just make history! Good luck with your work and make us proud!”

Duterte, who is the former mayor of Davao City, has been president of the Philippines since 2016.

Duterte, among other things, has publicly spoken in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples. Tan noted Duterte previously appointed CY Seguerra, a trans man, as chair of the country’s National Youth Commission.

The State Department in 2016 criticized Duterte for using an anti-gay slur to insult then-U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg. Human rights activists have also sharply criticized Duterte over his government’s anti-drug crackdown that has left more than 5,000 people dead.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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