MANILA (ChurchMilitant.com) - Last month's elections in the Philippines brought many surprises, from the election of self-proclaimed dictator Rodrigo Duterte to the election of the first Catholic "transgender woman" to congress.
Geraldine Roman was elected as the new congressman in May to the province of Bataan on the Philippine island of Luzon.
Now 49-years-old, Roman had sex reassignment surgery in New York in 1994 and had his name legally changed to Geraldine. His parents were also politicians and allegedly approved of his "transformation."
While Roman considers himself a practicing Catholic, he has voiced his support for the presidency of Duterte who is openly antagonistic towards the Catholic Church. In a interview with the Philippine Star, he maintains Duterte is "supportive of LGBT rights" and says he once offered to be the lawyer for the LGBT political party.
Speaking of Duterte, Roman says, "I'm a practicing Catholic, but it is refreshing that for once we have a president who is not afraid. I believe in separation of church and state. It is refreshing to have a leader who is fearless."
When asked which bathroom he will use while in Congress, he responds "Of course, I will use the female [bathroom], because if I use the male [bathroom] the guys there might get into trouble due to my beauty!"
Roman claims he received support from the Jesuits prior to his reassignment surgery, specifically mentioning the Jesuits at Fordham University in New York as praying for and writing to him.
The Philippines, a majority Catholic country, has been enduring a tsunami of change in terms of attitudes toward divorce, contraception, and so-called gay marriage. In September, the bishops' conference issued a decree condemning same-sex "marriage" and asserted the recent push towards the legalization of divorce is "the work of the devil."
Roman, however, disagrees with the bishops, alleging, "Pope Francis is a Jesuit and he said that it doesn't make you a better Catholic if you have more children. Pope Francis also said, 'If a gay person reaches out to God, who am I to judge?'"
In his hierarchy of political priorities, Roman places the economic welfare of his district and province first, LGBT rights and anti-discrimination laws at second, and agriculture at third.