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The Five Genders of the Bugis
South Sulawesi’s Calalai, Calabai, & Bissu
The Bugis of South Sulawesi have a detailed system of gender identification which has been described by one young Bugis as “one of those puzzles that doesn’t mean anything until you put all the pieces together” (Graham, 2004, p. 109). Indeed there are five distinct gender identities specified in Bugis society, which include: makkunrai (woman), calalai (transgendered female) bissu (androgynous priest), calabai (transgendered male), and oroané (man). The determination of individual gender is composed of many elements and is conveyed by Graham (2004) as a holistic consideration of physical, spiritual, social, and sexual attributes.


The physical body is very important in determining gender. A person’s sex determines their potential to procreate and as males can never be women or calalai and females can never be men or calabai the matter is not taken lightly (Davies, 2006). As for the other factors, in many ways an individual’s spirituality, sexuality, and preference for typical male or female social roles, will first clearly determine what they are not, since the categories of ‘man’ and ‘women’ are extremely strict. As Davies (2006) describes: A woman is female-bodied, heterosexual, married, a mother, and dressed modestly and appropriately (e.g. her sarong is tucked-in rather than rolled down like a man’s). A woman acts demurely, speaks politely, is refined and reserved, and identifies and is identified as, a woman … A man is male-bodied, heterosexual, married, and a father. A man is assertive and aggressive and controlled (p. 4-5). Those unable or unwilling to conform to these rigid categories are thus excluded and necessarily relocated in another gender category - quite likely calabai or calalai depending of course upon your physiology.


An agreed upon understanding of Bugis gender conceptualization and the role of multiple genders in South Sulawesi is difficult to convey, as many scholars have conflicting view points on the matter. While some seem mainly focused on the potential for diversity and self-expression in a society that recognizes the gender variation of its members as legitimate, others point out that forcing people into additional gender categories simply reinforces dichotomy and binary gender ideals (Davies, 2006; Graham, 2004; Idrus, 2005; Murray, 2002).


Transgender Model Geena Rocero Tells Glamour Why She Had to Share Her True Story

Today the model spends most of her time on Gender Proud, an organization she cofounded to make sure people around the world can change their gender on legal documents, and to address the violence and discrimination that still affects them. “I want everyone to understand that transgender women are women,” she says.

From Mumbrella:

An episode of the popular family drama Dr Who had to be edited for Asian audiences by BBC Worldwide because it featured two people of the same sex touching lips.

The series, which is broadcast in this region in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Korea, Thailand and Singapore had to be cut because of regulations in Singapore.

Had the scene been transmitted, BBC would have faced a fine.

The Dr Who episode Deep Breath featured a scene in which Silurian Madame Vastra locking lips with her human wife Jenny Flint in an attempt to save her life.

Singapore’s broadcast code stipulates that “information, themes or subplots on lifestyles such as homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexualism, transsexualism, transvestism, pedophilia and incest” are not allowed by Singapore’s Media Development Authority.

Technically, it’s between a non-human intelligent species and a human. But they’re both gendered as female, so…

(Do note that the hullabaloo isn’t over the fact that one of them is a lizard-person. That’s okay, apparently…)

"In a suburban part of Jakarta, we’re walking down a dirt road up to a very small pink house at the end of an alley. There are chickens running around, and children playing. It’s here that Indonesia’s first retirement home for transsexual and transgender people — known as waria in Indonesia — is being built"

Read the full article: Indonesia’s First Retirement Home For Transgenders 

By Rebecca Henschke of WorldCrunch

The Asia Pacific Transgender Network says:

Think you have what you takes to join the first regional #transgender network, Asia Pacific Transgender Network team in the Asia Pacific Region? 

We’re now seeking a Consultant to map organizations and advocates in our region. Send your CV, cover letter and expected salary to and, no later than 14 september 2014.

Trans persons are strongly encouraged to apply.

Malaysia lesbian couple arrested by religious officers in hotel raid

This is awful. Via Gay Star News. Report by Darren Wee.

A lesbian couple was arrested by religious officers yesterday during a raid of a budget hotel in Malaysia.

Nine officers from the Johor Islamic Religious Department raided their room in Johor Bahru at around 12.45am, the Sinar Harian newspaper reported.

One of the women answered the door while the other was naked in the bathroom. 

The women, both students aged 20 and 21, were not initially suspected of breaching ‘close proximity’ laws but officers became wary when the women remained silent as they searched the room.

When a sex toy was found, one of the women admitted they were a lesbian couple. On further questioning, she said they had not yet used the toy, which had just been removed from its packaging after recently being bought online.

The women were arrested for lesbian sex under section 26 of the state’s Shariah law and taken to a police station for booking, then to the religious department’s office for further action.

They could face up to three months in jail, six cane strokes and a fine of RM5,000.

Sisters In Islam (SIS) has urged the religious department to conduct a thorough investigation of the women.

SIS legal officer Rashidi Abd Rahim told the Raykat Post that the news report failed to show any criminal element and prosecutors had to prove that a sex act had taken place.

“Otherwise we will open the flood gates with people prosecuted based on an accusation,” he said.

He added that he hoped the women would be given adequate legal representation.

A Minor Contradiction 2014

Wanted to reblog this review of IndigNation’s closing event - by a 16 year-old queer Singaporean poet!


this is a blog post with a point

I think I was expecting more kids. But turns out the people performing and attending weren’t ///actually minors, so I was probably the only one in the room still with acne problems.

Last night was the closing event for Indignation 2014, which, if you didn’t…

The Stories of Being Me project is looking for new storytellers!

We are looking for people who are ready to share their real-life story about being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) in:

  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
  • Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Submit your proposal below or using our online formDeadline for submission: September 19, 2014.

Proposals that are selected will be made into a web-videos (of approximately two-and-a-half [2m30s] minutes duration) and presented online as part of the second edition of the ‘Stories of Being Me’ web-series, via the BE web-app.

Series I of ‘Stories of Being Me’ can be found at:

We encourage proposals that can highlight the diversity of LGBT communities across the five cities. In particular we encourage real-life stories from:

  • Transgender people
  • LGBT people living with HIV
  • Young LGBT people
  • Parents or relatives of LGBT people
  • LGBT parents or families

The purpose of the BE web-app and ‘Stories of Being Me’ web-series is to support the well-being of young people from diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.

BE and ‘Stories of Being Me’ is an initiative led by B-Change Foundation; supported by the United Nations Development Programme, Being LGBT in Asia, UNICEF Indonesia and Population Services International and USAID; and, in partnership with IPPF, IGLHRC and Oogachaga.

Find out more about the BE web-app at

We are accepting proposals from either:

  • Storytellers — People who are willing to share their real-life story but do not have technical experience in filmmaking (short-listed storytellers will be matched with filmmakers in their local area); or,
  • Filmmakers — People with experience in making short films, who have access to filmmaking equipment and are capable of producing a 2.5-minute rough cut of a compelling real-life story (filmmakers can propose a third-party or a autobiographical narrative).

If you have a story that you would like to share with the world, submit your proposal using the online form. Deadline for applications is September 19, 2014.

Filmmakers selected will be given a modest cash grant of $2000 USD to cover expenses to produce and deliver a rough-cut of approximately three-minutes by mid-October. The final cut made with the support of the Series Director using facilities at the Manila-based, Stories of Being Me Series Production Unit. Due to the documentary format of the ‘Stories of Being Me’ series, the small grants may not be used for appearance fees for the storytellers.

Please read the proposal guidelines before submitting. Videos are not a requirement of the initial submission process, however filmmakers are encouraged to include links to examples of their previous work to support.

Today marks the end of IndigNation, Singapore’s Queer Pride Season, now in its tenth year.

There’s been a load of documentation of the 2014 events here, so I’ve been able to share some posters of what was organised.

Now there’s one last event that we’re advertising - and it’s free! Hope some of you can make it!

A Minor ContraDiction:  Indignation SG 2014 Closing Night
Saturday August 30, 7:30pm
The Reading Room Gallery
21 Tanjong Pagar Road, #04-01
Singapore 088444

To bring Indignation to a close, take a peek into the future of Singapore’s queer literary community as present you with a night of readings and performances by some of Singapore’s most dynamic emerging LGBTQ voices. Raw. funny, honest, angry and hopeful, these young writers will show you what it means and how it feels to grow up queer in 21st century Singapore.

Facebook page here.

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