Transgenderism Throughout Southeast Asian HistoryPresentation Transcript
Transgenderism Throughout Southeast Asian History A deeper look into the article, “Transgenderims and Gender Pluralism in Southeast Asia,” written by Micheal G. Peletz By Mara Race
Introduction About the Author Purpose of the article Key terms: Gender Pluralism Transgendersim Historical Background Transgenderism in Southeast Asia The Bissu The Sida-Sida
Introduction: Continued The Second Half of the Post Modern Period Westernization Return to “Asian Values” Malaysia Affects on Transgender Communities The Bissu Conclusions Underlying Questions
About the Author: Michael G. Peletz Has his PhD in Anthropology and is currently a professor at Emory University His teaching and research interests focus on social and cultural theory; gender and sexual diversity; law, discipline, and disorder; and the cultural politics of religion Peletz has done extensive fieldwork in Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries He has published several works on these topics
Peletz’s Purpose for the Article “This article develops the concept of “gender pluralism” to analyze historical and ethnographic material bearing on Southeast Asia since early modern times.”-Peletz (p.309) The overall goal for Peletz was to bring light to the historical background of gender pluralism and transgenderism in regards to the religious history of Southeast Asians and begin to unfold the changes that the intensification of commerce and westernization of the countries has had an affect on individuals and communities that participate in these lifestyles.
Key Terms: Gender Pluralism Gender Pluralism is defined as the pluralistic sensibilities and dispositions regarding bodily practices (adornment, attire, mannerisms) and embodied desires, as well as social roles, sexual relationships and ways of being that bear on or are otherwise linked with local conceptions of femininity, masculinity, androgyny, etc.
Key Terms: Transgenderism Fits under the umbrella of Gender Pluralism In the popular lingo used today, “transgendered” people is an umbrella term used for those with various forms and degrees of crossgender practices and identifications. The categories are not hermetically sealedandto a certain extent the boundaries are permeable.
Historical Background: Transgenderism in Southeast Asia Background: during the modern era and many centuries prior, the religious traditions throughout Southeast Asia were profoundly dualistic with male and female elements both needing to be present to give power and effect. Women were seen to have many religious powers that man could not match
Historical Background: Transgenderism in Southeast Asia This importance of the female gods gave ignoramus prestige in many South Asian communities for those who to male-bodied individuals who dressed in female attire while performing certain rituals These men and women who performed in these rituals were seen as sacred mediators between males and females and between the spheres of humans and the domains of spirits and nature
Historical Background: The Bissu A well known class of ritual specialists among the Bugis of south Sulawesi are the Bissu The male-bodied Bissu assumed female attire and other accoutrements of femininity, safeguard royal regalia and the sacred “white blood” of ruling families, engaged in sexual relations and marriage with same-sex partners andwere accorded the status ofnobility
Historical Background: The Sida-Sida Ritual specialists from the Malay Peninsula Known to engage in androgynous behavior The resided in the inner chambers of palaces this could be to safeguard the women of the palaces and were entrusted with the sacred regalia and the preservation of the ruler’s spiritual powers or potency
Historical Background: Transgenderism in Southeast Asia It was a belief that transcended male-female duality helped structure and animate the universe Ritual specialists exhibiting androgyny were ideally situated both to communicate and successfully negotiate with these spirits and deities and to personify them. These views would soon be subject to change in the second half of the Early Modern Period
The Second Half of the Early Modern Period:Westernization The second half of this period went through dramatic changes associated with dialectically related processes like: Intensification of commerce State building Territorial consolidation conductive to political systems that were more centralized and bureaucratic The new change made no room for the public ritual centrality of women or the transgendered-leading to declines of prestige and legitimacy…
The Second Half of the Early Modern Period: Westernization continued Once prominent religious leaders were: Stripped of royal patrons Expelled from their jurisdictions Scrutinized and private lives made public Despite the delegitimization, gender pluralism existed in most areas of Southeast Asia well into the twentieth century
The Second Half of the Early Modern Period:“Asian Values” Dramatically opposed to the ideals of the “western world” that celebrate: Importance of community and family over the individual Marriage Elders Discourage: Homosexuality Sexual deviance
The Second Half of the Early Modern Period:“Asian Values” Malaysia: known to have a communities like the Mak Yong made up completely of transvestite and homosexual members Government began to instutionalize policies of heterosexism and homophobia and cultural sensibilities associated with them Disciplining all transgenders/gays/lesbians
Affects on transgender communities: The Bissu The mostly male bodiedBissu claim to heavenly beings as mystical spouses were seen as a threat to the new foundations of the community This threat lead to huge discredit of the Bissuand the expel of the them from their jurisdictions They were deprived of: Their royal patrons Duties guarding royal regalia and enhancing the sacred potency of the local rulers This is not to suggest that the Bissuand other transgender communities have completely disappeared but have been delegitimized and radically transformed
Affects on transgender communities Created a great amount of discrimination and stigmatization against transgender and gender plural communities and religious cultures Created anti-gay organizations Increased violence against gays
Conclusion The expansion of state and state power have rationalized the undercut and delegitimization of different gender and sexual norms Despite the historical and ethnographic evidence indicating that transgendered practices and identities there has been an increase in stigmatization and discrimination on all nonheteronormative genders and sexualities.
Conclusion: continued It is predicted by Peltez and other scholars: If ideas and agendas of government leaders stay in the same direction there will be greater formalization and segregation of gender roles and more widespread discrimination and lack of acknowledgement for the historical past of the Southeastern Asian cultures.
Underlying Questions: Do you see a reason why individuals apart of these religious but transgendered communities should have to hide or change their beliefs to adapt to the beliefs of the modern world? Have you ever been asked to change you believe whole-heartedly in? How did it make you feel? Would you change your beliefs if you were told it was for the greater good of your country?