DOT probes Samal Island resort over transgender discrimination

Published May 13, 2021, 6:10 PM

by Antonio Colina IV

DAVAO CITY – The Department of Tourism (DOT)-Davao will investigate the alleged “sexual harassment and gender discrimination” allegedly committed against a transgender woman during her visit to a resort at the Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS).

Shannon R. Gonzaga, a transgender, complained of being discriminated against by the resort staff and management after she was prevented from taking shower at the women’s common room for being “gay” last May 8.

The agency, in a statement Thursday, maintained that it advocates gender equality and mainstreaming and deplores gender-based harassment or discrimination.

“The DOT is an advocate of gender equality and mainstreaming, and does not tolerate any form of gender-based harassment nor discrimination in its systems, structures, policies, programs, and processes,” it said.

The DOT urged tourism industry stakeholders to “abide by our national laws on gender and development.”

As a result of the incident involving Gonzaga and the resort last Saturday, the management was prompted to announce Wednesday that it would no longer accommodate transgender guests “to avoid discrimination” due to lack of facilities to cater to them.

The resort management clarified in a statement that it did not intend to discriminate against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ+) and denied disrespecting Gonzaga.

It explained that it previously received complaints from female guests every time a transgender woman would come to use the common shower room for women.

It maintained it is not “homophobic or transphobic” and that all the members of the LGBTQ+ are welcome to its resort but it hopes that its policy on the use of shower rooms and comfort rooms will be respected as it only tries to consider and protect other guests, particularly the women’s rights and privacy.

“To give the public a background, women guests have been complaining to the management that they do not feel safe and or are uncomfortable with transgender and even vulnerable using the shower room with them,” it said.

It said guests whose room accommodations do not have comfort rooms were provided with separate male and female comfort rooms and shower rooms, which are equipped with “several shower heads and spaces.”

The common shower rooms are open and don’t have separate cubicles, the resort management said.

“Once inside, everyone can see everybody using it. Thus, women are complaining if there are transgenders using it with them. Since then, it has become the management’s policy not to allow transgenders to use the female shower room,” it explained.

It added that it decided not to accommodate transgender women since resort has no facility yet to cater to their demand for a separate shower room and to avoid being accused of discrimination.

 “In order to avoid being labeled as discriminatory or discriminating against the transgenders as we have no facility for them or that we cannot allow them to use the female shower room, we issued the statement that we cannot accommodate them as of the moment that we have no facility for them,” it said.

The management said that it has workers who are members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“The FB post is only intended for trans who wishes to have separate facility or who will demand to use the female shower rooms,” it said.