Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 14th 2018 Contents news A7
Sunday, January 14, 2018
Victimised for sexual orientation
Milly happy after being
Deyone "Milly" Guiseppi fled this
country ive years ago after being
bullied, harassed and victimised
for her sexual orientation and
sought asylum in a European
Guiseppi has since been granted
asylum and is happy.
"I am in an environment where
it is more positive and I think
more clearly and it is conducive
to me progressing, I can grow as a
human being," Guiseppi told the
"I think it's the best decision I
ever made," she said.
Guiseppi, who was born a male,
said at age three she realised that
something was different with her.
"I knew but I just didn't have
the words to say what that was."
It was only when she turned
16, Guiseppi said she was actually
able to ind the words to describe
what she was going through.
"I was struggling to ind my
identity or to at least it in or feel
like I belonged somewhere. I al-
ways thought that I was gay but
then I realised I was transgender,
many people just don't under-
stand in Trinidad and Tobago and
they try to put everything into the
box of being gay," Guiseppi said.
Guiseppi said that being trans-
gender has to do with your gen-
der, while being gay has to do
with who you are attracted to.
Eventually as Guiseppi grew
older, she decided she wanted to
"I decided that I wanted to tran-
sition and didn't want to stay liv-
ing an unhappy life as somebody
I wasn't," she said.
Guiseppi approached a private
doctor for hormone therapy to
assist in her transition.
The process, however, was ex-
tremely expensive and Guiseppi
eventually sought therapy at a
public health facility.
She also had to undergo psychi-
"I was gradually changing my-
self, nothing extreme, by using
make-up and wearing clothes that
was more feminine," Guiseppi
Things, however, became prob-
lematic when she got a new boss
who was also a pastor.
"He started to harass me about
how I chose to express myself in
the way I dressed and I was even
given a document highlighting the
dress code for men and women,"
The company's human resource
department also got involved.
"The harassment was becom-
ing continuous and I really didn't
want to go to work any more. It
was a nuisance, and if I can't work
then I can't support myself," she
The Equal Opportunity Commission
could not help
Guiseppi approached the Equal
Opportunity Commission (EOC)
and iled a complaint about victi-
"I stood against the victimi-
sation because I thought it was
wrong, I was doing my work and
I couldn't understand why I was
being harassed like this, but I
think it is part of our society in
Trinidad where it is seen as being
bad to be transgender, gay or les-
bian," Guiseppi said.
"People should be able to be
themselves, they shouldn't have
to change for other people be-
cause I was not harming any-
However, according to the EOC
Act, people who claim to be dis-
criminated against on the basis
of sexual orientation have no re-
The act prohibits discrimina-
tion against individuals on seven
grounds (race, ethnicity, religion,
sex, marital status, origin and dis-
ability), but sexual orientation is
expressly excluded from protec-
Although the act includes sex
as a status ground, Section 3, the
interpretation section, provides
that "sex does not include sexual
preference or orientation".
Both EOC chairman Lynette
Seebaran-Suite and head of The
Coalition Advocating for Inclusion
of Sexual Orientation (CAISO)
Colin Robinson have called for
this to be changed.
Guiseppi said this hurt.
"The EOC told me they couldn't
help me because gender in T&T is
limited to being male or female.
It made me feel like that with me
being transgender that the EOC
was telling me I wasn't a citizen
because of my gender, it was like
they were saying they are unwill-
ing to protect me because in the
laws of Trinidad and Tobago it
says that there are only two gen-
ders," she said.
"My gender was not protected
under the act. It is a shame that
all Trinidadians cannot be pro-
tected from discrimination and
it's a shame that all Trinidadians
can't live in their country and
be happy. I'm still proud to be a
Trinidadian and nobody can take
that away from me, but I think in
changing some of the laws we will
be more inclusive to people who
are from the LGBTQIA commu-
nity. It is protecting your citizens,
which is basic human rights."
While going through the EOC
process, Guiseppi was also phys-
Lack of support from her family
was also an issue.
"It all reached a breaking
point," she said.
Guiseppi bought a ticket and
left the country for greener pas-
When she landed, she iled for
asylum and had to undergo the
She has since been granted asy-
"If Trinidad and Tobago
couldn't protect me and it is my
own, then what could I do again.
If my own didn't care about me
and want to see the destruction
of me because of only one aspect
of me then I had no choice but
to move away and get out of that
negative situation," she said.
"It was extremely overwhelm-
ing when I reached because,
of course, I didn't speak the
language, there was different
weather, different people and a
different culture, it is still a bit
overwhelming sometimes but I'm
getting accustomed to it," Gui-
Guiseppi is currently in univer-
Deyone "Milly" Guiseppi
"I decided that I
wanted to transition
and didn't want to
stay living an
unhappy life as
somebody I wasn't."
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