Her beauty blogging career already gives away her savvy about makeup, cosmetics, and, well, anything in the realm of beauty. But proud transwoman Mikki Galang's own confidence radiates so much so it's palpable as a sense of bravery and boldness.
Mikki, born biologically male, revealed she has already manifested signs of identifying with a different gender as early as 11 years old. Throughout her process of self-discovery, she would take interest in blush and powder, and apparently more. “Ever since I was in high school, I was interested in studying cosmetics and makeup. When I was in college, it then grew to an interest in beauty in general, and in depth, as I took up courses that study different aspects of it—chemistry, philosophy, and economics," the Ateneo Applied Chemistry graduate recalls. "This landed me to brand management positions in beauty and personal care corporations, then my beauty blogging career when I resigned.”
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Mikki eventually decided to come out as gay first and then as a trans woman. But she had to subtly change her presentation back to her assigned sex when she was applying for a job. She was just able to fully complete her transition upon setting up a blog of her own—MikkiGalang.com.
Her coming out came with a number of major turns—“close to 360”—and changes in life—both good and bad. “It's not always easy when it comes to relationships because as I change, people do, too. But I have always tried my best to maintain bonds with people who see me beyond my gender.” Yet, she adds, “It’s really fulfilling to realize who you are as it will reflect in your attitude, work, and way of life.”
When asked about the challenges that come with being part of the LGBTQ community in the Philippines, she gives an interesting response. “Acceptance versus tolerance, gender versus sex, civil rights versus just being who you are, and faith versus religion. I think that while the problem of coming out and tolerance is still an issue to most, we need to elevate this movement and discourse to employment, mental and physical health care, violence, and discrimination.” She's armed with a positive mindset, though, sees these obstacles as opportunities for her to bring out a better version of herself and her community.
Amidst the struggles, this young lady of humor and wit finds joy in the love and support she gets from others. Yes, most especially from online. She muses, “Social media allows us to show empathy and I have seen it from my readers and friends who support me in my career and problems as well—whether it be about gender discrimination in malls, restrooms, and clubs, or just my everyday struggle as an LGBTQ.” Mikki feels more optimistic toward the advancement of LGBTQ rights in the country, citing certain instances such as the election of transgender politician Geraldine Roman to congress and the progression of the SOGIE Bill.
For Mikki, it’s about elevating the strength of her character as she continues to embrace her identity and encourage others to do the same. This, she does through her blog and baby business Mikki Galang Hair. (The latter is all about lace-front wigs, mink lashes and everything hair!) “It allows me to interact to my readers of all shapes, ages and genders, in a different way and challenges me to become an entrepreneur and influencer at the same time... It might not be a concrete thing or massive influence and it can be as simple as a ‘Hey sister, I got you!’ on social media, which can become a harsh place for transgender people, especially kids.”
It may have been quite a tough journey for Mikki, but it’s something she takes a ton of pride in. “It's not about the destination. It's not just about the transition or the before-and-after's. I am most proud of me living as a transgendered Filipina woman, and human as well.” As she continues to empower the LGBTQ community, she looks forward to more breakthroughs for equality and acceptance. “I hope to see more and right media representation of the LGBT people and experience rights that would protect us from anything that hinders us to a life we deserve."
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Produced by Camille Santiago | Creative direction by Barry Viloria | Photography by Vyn Radovan | Shot by Tin Zabat | Edited by Lui Jimenez | Makeup Patrick lcober, Jinx Agabao, and Maws Diaz of Make Up For Ever | Sam Corbillon of Triple Luck Brow and Nail Salon | Shot on location at City Garden Grand Hotel | Special thanks to Margarette Domingo | Banner image by Lui Jimenez