"It was impossible," she recalled. "I was from one of the four top universities. I was in the upper 20% of the graduating class."
She eventually found a job working in the human resources department of a music retail business; then, she moved on to join an international call center for 10 years. There, she found corporate policies provided her with some protections, like the ability to use the women’s restroom, though she continued to face some discrimination from local managers.
“They have a global mission and vision statements. Most should be gender-blind and sexuality-blind,” Alegre said.
Emmanuel David, an assistant professor of women and gender studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, interviewed dozens of transgender call-center agents in the Philippines as part of his research
. David told Refinery29 that while tensions do exist still in such workplaces, the centers have created a “safe space” for many transgender workers.
Those call-center openings appeal to people who want to "make a livelihood without relying on the jobs stereotypically associated with trans women,” David said. These include positions in the beauty or entertainment industries, or sex work, he added. The agent positions, viewed as "cosmopolitan" roles, have even helped some transgender women achieve higher social and economic status.