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The Philippines may be a conservative, deeply religious country, but it is also a progressive one.While the international spotlight was fixed firmly on incoming President Rodrigo Duterte – aka "Duterte Harry" or "The Punisher" – Geraldine Roman stepped out of the shadows to steal many of the global headlines."If you think that by modifying the outside you can become a more loving, more generous and a happier person then go ahead because the most important thing is the heart.
they would call me sinner, they would brand me unfit to serve and they would deal with the cliches about gay people," she reveals."They would say: ' comes from a political family.'" These were just some of the insults she had to endure.
Roman went from a little-known local politician to the subject of an international media frenzy after the 49-year-old became the first transgender politician in the Philippines to win a congressional seat with an impressive 62% share of the vote.
She is now the representative for the first district of northern Bataan province.
Born to a political family in Manila in 1967, Roman spent some of her formative years in Orani, Bataan, located some 200km from the capital where her grandparents used to live.
"I grew up knowing something was wrong in that I was uncomfortable with my own body, but nobody told me what that was," Roman told IBTimes UK.
While the two politicians endured very different discriminatory attacks, Roman questioned the pursuit of political triumph by awakening "hatred, bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, disrespect.