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Are Bakla and Ladyboy the Same?

Amanda Valentine Dela Cruz
This post was last updated on .

If you are planning to date Filipina ladyboys, you must keep reading. This article is essential if you don’t want to offend anyone. Get ready to know the colorful world of the baklas of the Philippines.

What is a Bakla?

It is a popular term and a tagalog word in the Philippines that pertains to gay men and transgender women. However, you must know what this word really means. It is not derogatory but it’s not something that some Filipinos (most especially ladyboys) prefer.

Two Baklas


Originally, the word bakla in English translates to a gay man. However, because of the discovery of transgenderism and other spectrums in the LGBTQIA+ community, it now translates to queer. Its other Filipino counterpart is bayot, which is a Visaya (2nd most popular dialect in the Philippines) translation.


According to Martin F. Manalansan, a Filipino anthropologist, the word has two possible origins :

  • First is that it’s a combination of the Filipino words babae which translates to woman and lalake which translates to man.
  • The other is that it’s a shortened word for babaylan, which translates to an ethnic group of shamans.

It is also similar to India’s term hijra and Native American’s two-spirit.


It is used colloquially and it has no negative connotations. However, when used improperly, it can be offensive. The majority of Filipinos still use it to pertain to gay men, whether they be effeminate or not. They also use the same word to address transgender women.

Difference Between Bakla and Ladyboy

The dichotomy between bakla and ladyboy is gender:

  • the former was originally used to identify gay men
  • but ladyboys identify as women

This is why a lot of ladyboys feel hurt when they’re called bakla because it’s not what they want to be known as. They want to be recognized as women and not men.

Proper Terminologies for a Filipina Ladyboy

The word binabae translates to effeminate. This is something that’s less piercing to the ears of a transwoman. However, if you want to address her properly, call her Transpinay. Furthermore, there are Filipino ladyboys who like to be addressed simply as:

  • babae
  • woman
  • lady
  • or girl

To summarize this guide, you must not pertain to her with anything that has to do with being a man. The word ladyboy is okay to use too but a lot of transwomen from the Philippines follow western standards. Your safest bet at the end of the day is Transpinay.

Are they accepted in the Philippines?

Sadly, in 2020, the Philippines is still not the best place to live as a transgender woman. Even though baklas are omnipresent in the country, they’re still not treated equally. The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country and the majority of its population follow catechism religiously.

If you’re planning to date a Filipino ladyboy, you must take her out of the country. Living in the Philippines is not the best option to retire if you’re partner is a transgender woman. Both your futures are not secured enough in a country like it.


Even if Filipinos say that they accept LGBTQIA+ individuals, studies and surveys tell a different story. A lot of Filipinos are not straightforward and hidden discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community is rampant. This was made possible by church sermons and how backward trans women are still portrayed in the media.

Filipino street
  • A lot of Filipino ladyboys get harassed in the streets.
  • Plenty of them are even deprived of using the women’s bathroom.
  • The majority of the workforce, most especially Filipino-owned companies, don’t hire ladyboys.

Dating ladyboys can also cause a lot of chismis (gossiping), most especially if the couple lives in a village or a subdivision. Although none of the mentioned things are fatal, they can add up and hurt the couple inherently; lowering the quality of their life. Furthermore, ladyboys are blocked from entering certain establishments… simply for being ladyboys.


SOGIE (Sexual orientation and Gender Identity Expression) Equality Bill failed to become law in 2019. It aims to protect individuals, most especially transgender people, from harassment, violence, and discrimination (especially in the workforce).

Currently, some senators are fighting for a revised SOGIE Equality Bill called SOGIE SC. As of December 2020, the bill’s still pending. However, seeing its passage come to light is nearly impossible as the ones who have rejected it are still seated in the senate and congress.

Filipino Flag

In the Philippines, same-sex marriage is not legal. There’s also no civil union. Retirement in the Philippines is harder because a ladyboy and her partner can’t legally own properties together. Their assets are not protected should they choose to break up.

Furthermore, ladyboys are not allowed to change their gender markers. This makes it harder for her to travel with you internationally. If the man still chooses to live in the Philippines with a ladyboy, his only options are either the house will be solely owned by the ladyboy or that they’ll perpetually rent.


The baklas (gay men and effeminate gay men) are given more opportunities in the media. A lot of them have very successful careers in the entertainment world.

However, it’s the ladyboys who are suffering from the media’s shortsightedness. Just in 2020, a movie entitled Pakboys Takusa showed a trailer with a transgender actress named Francine Garcia, peeing while standing up. It also showed how the act was secretly seen by the protagonist, who subsequently felt disgusted from discovering his one-night stand’s gender identity.

Filipino Show

The Philippine media (mostly on movies and TV dramas), enjoy showing Filipino ladyboys in a comical light. They’re presented as traps most of the time and this further encourages Filipino men to feel a certain way about having sexual and romantic relations with transgender women.

However, there are still Filipino shows that try to uplift the Transpinay community. One particular TV drama about a trans woman that made it to mainstream media is called Destiny Rose by GMA 7.

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Popular Baklas in the Philippines

Please know that this section will not only feature famous Filipino ladyboys. It will also include other types. After all, it’s an umbrella term and it would be unfair not to show the other types of baklas.

Vice Ganda

Vice Ganda is inarguably the most famous bakla in the Philippines. He’s a crossdressing gay man who plays a lot of comical characters in movies. He rose to fame by being one of the judges in the popular Philippine noontime variety show called “It’s Showtime”. Because of the fans’ demands to see more of him, he was included in the roster of the show’s hosts.

Subsequently, after his success in television, he entered the movie industry. He did not fail in this venture as he’s the first one to have movies earning more than billions of pesos. Three of his movies that featured him as the protagonist have passed the five hundred million mark in gross income.

Kevin Balot

She’s one of the most famous ladyboys in the Philippines. Although not as popular as Vice Ganda, she has made history when she became the country’s first Miss International Queen.

She’s considered to be one of the most beautiful transgender women in the country. One of her biggest strides in the entertainment industry was when she became the first transgender ambassadress for Pantene in the Philippines.

Francine Garcia

The equally beautiful Francine Garcia, is also making a name in the Philippine entertainment industry. She rose to fame when she became the winner of the grand finals of the country’s most popular beauty contest for ladyboys called Super Sireyna.

Francine is more active in the showbiz industry and social media. She has her own talk show which airs through Facebook lives weekly. Her show talks about the wonderful world of transpageantry in the Philippines.

Boy Abunda

Long before the three names mentioned above became household names, Boy Abunda was one of the most popular baklas in the country. He’s revered intellectually as he is known for being a famous journalist and talk show host.

What makes him stand out from other showbiz talk show hosts is that he goes deep into the lives of the stars that he interviews. He doesn’t only talk about his guest’s projects or anything that has to do with their lives in front of the cameras. He has the ability to truly show his guests’ personalities for the viewers to have a better look at what these stars are all about.

Mark Bautista

Not all baklas are effeminate or ladyboys. Some of them are gay men who are more in touch with their masculinity. The perfect example of this type of person is Mark Bautista.

He started his journey as a singer through singing competitions. Luckily, he won many titles along the way which helped him be recognized by big recording companies. He was groomed not only as a singer but also as a leading man in films and TV.

However, he recently came out as a gay man which shocked his fans and people who knew him. His sexual orientation did not affect his career too much as he’s still in-demand and well-respected in the Philippines’ music industry.

Now that you have discovered the bakla or bayot meaning, it’s time for you to not use it lightly. It is indeed more fun in the Philippines… but in their case, it’s more fun on the surface of the Philippines.

Other terms for Bakla that you could look up are:

We analyzed Google Trends data to compare the popularity of various terms that refer to transgender women in Asia and in the world. This is what we found out.

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About the author

Amanda Valentine Dela Cruz
Amanda Valentine is a transgender woman who has written about trans topics for over 10 years for My Transgender Date. She is an author who made it on Amazon’s best-seller list by writing 5 books on trans women’s relationships. Her book “Dating Transgender Women for Gentlemen” peaked at #3 in the Transgender Studies category on Amazon. She started writing at the age of 10 and won a poetry contest in 4th grade which convinced her to pursue a career in literature. Her personal experiences as a transgender woman give her a unique perspective on trans topics.

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