(Unlike typical American workspaces, the walls were painted teal and the cubicle dividers were fuchsia, reflecting a Filipino taste for bright colors.) “My brother played with cars, but I stole my sisters’ dolls,” Angel said.
“That was when I started to think I am bakla.”Feminine boys don’t face as much stigma in the Philippines compared to the U.
And because customers only hear them on the phone, those who would balk at being served by a trans woman are none the wiser.
Since women are often perceived as more comforting than men, presenting as women on the phone can actually advance call center workers’ careers.
But Emmanuel David, an assistant professor in women and gender studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is working on a book about the subject and confirms their substantial presence in these companies.
In one of his interviews, one woman even claimed that 3 out of 4 workers in her company are trans.
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.
Because trans women in the Philippines are legally classified as men, there are no reliable statistics to quantify their numbers in the industry.
According to David, this is because trans women talk among themselves and congregate in workplaces that have a reputation for being trans-friendly.
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.
Call centers emerged in the country in the mid-2000s, and eventually displaced India as the industry’s global leader.
Companies like IBM, JPMorgan, and e Bay have set up customer service operations in the Philippines; as descendants of American colonization, Filipinos often speak English with lighter accents and have greater access to American culture than Indians, who were colonized by the British.