S., because of its long indigenous history of third-gender people.People assigned male at birth who grow up to identify as bakla are typically permitted to have feminine mannerisms and sometimes even wear girl’s clothes or accessories — but can’t grow their hair long or wear dresses, which would risk having them be mistaken for girls.In the 1990s, in the rural province of Pangasinan, 125 miles north of Manila, Angel thought of herself as bakla, an indigenous identity that Filipinos think of as third-gender, distinct from either boys or girls.Angel offered details of her childhood as she walked through the main call center floor, an open space with a low drop ceiling, bathed dimly in fluorescent light.
David said that trans women act as “emotional shock-absorbers” who become indispensable for livening up overnight shifts and dealing with the Western customers they cater to.
In fact, Angel said that many call center employees she knows first took on a female persona while on the phone with customers — long before they personally identified as trans.
What’s more, success at work can give those with nascent trans identities the confidence to present as women in real life.“In call centers, we are embraced and celebrated not because of our gender and who we are,” Angel told me, “but we are equally treated because of what we produce and perform in the company.”The call center industry has thus not only promoted transgender women, but actually shaped their identities in fundamental ways.
There are now more than 1 million call center workers in a country of 98 million, and the industry accounts for an estimated 10% of the Philippine economy.
Because trans women in the Philippines are legally classified as men, there are no reliable statistics to quantify their numbers in the industry.