Digital Transgender Archive

Interview with Geena Rocero

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Geena Rocero was raised in the Philippines and grew up poor in a small neighborhood in the metro city of Makati with three siblings and her parents. Realizing she identified as a girl at 4 or 5 years old, she loved playing with Barbies and having long hair, which was her first idea of femininity. Joining beauty pageants and wrapping towels around her head as a kid helped her feel connected to femininity. Growing up her boy name was June-June, and she loved playing street games outside barefoot. She went to elementary school where her mom worked as a teacher. Her mother was also the breadwinner in the family while her father was a stay-at-home dad who cooked and cleaned. Growing up effeminate, Rocero, even now, is taunted, teased, and harassed by others in the Philippines who provoke fear in her and police her gender expression. She’s also a well-known trans beauty queen in the Philippines. She later immigrated to the United States, living in New York City for ten years as a model. Passionate about reclaiming her indigenous culture, she started an organization called Gender Proud which advocates for Asian-Pacific LGBTQ rights and produces a web series called Beautiful as I Want to Be. She is also an artist, producer, and television host. She had transition related surgery in San Francisco and Thailand and started taking an injectable birth control at 15 or 16 in the Philippines to feminize herself. She moved to San Francisco in 2001 through Asian-Pacific Wellness Center where she was able to properly learn how to inject her own hormones. She also came out on a TedTalk show and was the first trans person Caitlyn Jenner met.

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