An earlier version of this story was submitted in the 60th Palanca Awards.
This is not a story about the engine loudly braying that early morning – the jeepney driver’s foot on the pedal whipping violently this mechanical beast of burden. The motor’s cries echoed on the empty streets that cold December, as the driver prodded the diesel-hungry creature to give all its strength, mercilessly demanding that the tired Isuzu 4BA1 weave through the provincial asphalt highway.
An edited version of this appeared in TEAM Magazine.
I first saw Balian Buschbaum while watching National Geographic’s Taboo episode “Changing Gender” years back. My curiosity was piqued. I thought the episode would help me understand myself more as a gay man, and how I could explain myself better to people who didn’t seem to get that wearing dresses or being obsessed with Miss Universe is not synonymous to being gay.
Balian—a scruffy, athletic (he was a former Olympian) German—was formerly known as Yvonne Buschbaum, and is a trans man. That means, Balian was assigned female at birth, but he identifies as a man. This concept treads on SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Expression) territory, which a lot of people still do not fully understand. I myself found these as fuzzy concepts, until recently.
HELLO, MY NAME IS EVAN TAN.
I'm a writer and communications professional based in Manila, Philippines. Outside of my regular job, I like to travel, work out, volunteer, watch movies and plays, go to art galleries/ fairs and museums, read books, and eat vegetarian food.
More about me here.