When Megan Victoria Saludares, 39, changed her Instagram handle in 2018 from her old name and resurfaced as a woman, her followers, especially those from the Philippines, were powerfully surprised. But their reactions were not what she expected.
Instead of disgust or disrespect, her inbox was flooded with congratulatory messages. Her friends were delighted to see her with long dark hair and a slender physique. It was a moment she would never forget. Her family supported her even more, making her one of the most important moments in her journey towards femininity.
Yet three years later, after her decision to move to the United States in 2015, she finally feels safer, enjoying herself in a place we call the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Saludares was born, raised and educated in Manila. She left the Philippines to join her family in San Francisco, but then decided to move to Los Angeles to become more independent.
Before deciding to change her life, Saludares had thrived in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, starting as a call center agent after graduating in Legal Management in 2004. She worked her way up the ranks. from an entry-level customer service role to a team one. leadership until moving to the United States
Megan Victoria in Manila
While still in the Philippines, thoughts of transition had always lingered in Saludares’ mind, but she did not have the courage to actualize it. HRT or hormone replacement therapy in the Philippines is still unregulated. This is done through the black market, by those with more financial resources.
“I thought it was a risky health decision at the time and I didn’t have a community of transgender women in Manila. I always thought I was happy just being gay and thought the transition to a woman was just a phase that will pass. shared Saludares.
Being openly gay in the Philippines, with its predominantly Catholic population, remains a big gamble. There are still widely held misconceptions about lifestyle, and while the concept of “transgender” is not new, it is still not widely explored. Being transgender and being gay are always mistakenly taken to be the same thing.
Although the LGBTQIA community in the Philippines has seen some progress in recent years, it is still not protected by law. LGBTQIA members have limited or no access to resources like in the United States. They are often labeled as comedic, funny people doing weird antics in the entertainment industry.
Transgender women are also often subjected to derogatory and ridiculed remarks such as “Parlorists”, a colloquial term for gay men working in hair and makeup salons and prefer to dress in women’s clothing.
Saludares humorously shared her confusion with living a double life until 2017. On weekends, she went to clubs or attended parties dressed as a woman with full makeup and combed hair. One revealing Saturday night in February 2018, she met a middle-aged Malaysian-born trans woman on a shared Uber ride on her way to a rooftop party in West Hollywood.
Saludares has been praised for her looks. She was told that she looked like Megan Young, a former Filipino beauty queen and celebrity who won the Miss World crown representing the Philippines in 2013. The meeting led to a deeper friendship. Saludares eventually found a community and met more trans women in Los Angeles. She then became more comfortable talking about HRT. Her journey as “Megan”
In the spring of 2018, Saludares finally decided to start the transition process and launched their new Instagram account. The first step in HRT was to watch a video presentation on the intricacies of therapy, its drawbacks – a thorough education of the entirety of it.
Then she had to see a doctor for evaluation and on the same day she was given an injection of estrogen and two testosterone blocker tablets. The estrogen shot had to be done every two weeks for maintenance. Now all she has to do is take a pill of the testosterone blocker as the testosterone is now undetectable in her body.
Although it seemed like her transition was easy, Megan experienced depression and mood swings, especially in the first few months on HRT. She also had an increased appetite and gained weight at the start of therapy. She still experiences ups and downs sometimes, a common side effect because hormones induce emotions.
“You have to mentally prepare for it and have a strong support group. It comes with a lot of emotional challenges. I am fortunate to be in LA and to be surrounded by a large and diverse community of transgender women and to have access to the resources of the LGBT center here. Everything is covered by my health insurance.
Being on HRT also means a decrease or absence of sex drive. She’s proud to say that at least sex isn’t that important to her after the transition. She is now more drawn to emotional connections.
Course after the “transition”
Megan looks very young. Her doctor said that having HRT is like having a second puberty. Megan has never looked back, and she is extremely proud and happy of her “authentic self”.
While crimes may target trans women, she has not yet been subjected to dangerous discrimination or suffered. She feels more excited about her life and the respect she gets as a woman. “Women are respected, ”she said proudly.
Megan is currently an Ecommerce Specialist for a New York-based online furniture company and works remotely in Los Angeles. Although she is comfortable and satisfied with her current job, she wishes to become a lawyer and specialize in criminal law and defense.
She’s dating a cisgender man she met at a fashion show in Los Angeles in 2017. While she has no plans to settle down just yet, it’s predictable. “I still want to do a lot of things and take photography seriously. She was an aspiring fashion photographer before she decided to make the transition.
Although Megan has no plans to have ‘gender reassignment surgery’ yet, she mentioned moving to the UK is another option. According to his research, there are more resources there and the surgery is covered by the universal health system. Trans people are also better protected under UK laws through the Gender Recognition Act of 2004.
“I hope people will be more open to us trans women and use the correct pronouns. Trans women are women and should not be confused with gay men. I am happy and have no regrets with who I am now. Now I have a better understanding of women and the struggles of trans women at the same time. You have to be nice and kind and you will also be treated the same, ”concluded Megan.