As chronicled in the activist-turned-author’s groundbreaking memoir Horse Barbie, Rocero rose from pageant queen in the Philippines to top fashion model and trans activist in the U.S., having publicly come out as transgender in a now-viral talk along the way.
As a years-long wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation crested in 2023, Rocero’s decision to tell her story—and her subsequent honor as Glamour Woman of the Year—couldn’t have been more urgent, or timely. And Rocero’s honor in particular made for quite a “full-circle moment,” as both she and 2022 Woman of the Year Aurora James noted in their moving speeches.
Rocero also acknowledged the occasion’s momentous meaning, just after expressing enthusiasm at being the first Filipina WOTY winner.
“I just love the idea that the very first Filipina Glamour Woman of the Year is a trans woman,” she said. “
That story, and the ability to tell it as her true self, is what matters most to the author.
“Writing my memoir Horse Barbie, for me, was a reclamation: a reclamation of the spirit that I had in the Philippines growing up,” she later said in her speech. She then shared who the “true hero” of her story really is: her mother.
“I have to speak the name of my mother Elizabeth, who, after being separated for five years, gave me the chance and sacrifice so I could be legally recognized as the woman that I was when I moved to America. Because still in the Philippines, trans people are not legally recognized. We are legally erased,” she said.
“My mother is the hero of my story. My Catholic mother, a devout Catholic mother.”