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An inter-Asia history of transpuan in Indonesia

posted on 2022-11-29, 02:32 authored by Benjamin Hegarty
The Indonesian term “transpuan” combines the first syllable of the English word “transgender” and last syllable of one Indonesian word for “woman” (perempuan). First appearing in the late 2010s, transpuan was rapidly adopted for use in progressive activist communities alongside and in some accounts as a replacement for the existing Indonesian term waria. This chapter introduces a history of transpuan that traces its relationship to globalised forms of knowledge about and networks that influenced the emergence of a distinctive form of trans-politics in Southeast Asia. Dominant theoretical approaches to gender and sexuality at the level of the individual, and corresponding liberal forms of political mobilisation, has tended to interpret terms for trans- in Southeast Asia according to binaries of modernity/tradition, past/present, and local/modern. As both a national and transnational term, transpuan exceeds the limited imaginings of these scales of affiliation. I argue that transpuan is shaped by longstanding inter-Asian histories of knowledge and exchange among trans-people in Southeast Asia. An inter-Asia history of transpuan helps to develop a trans- and queer lens on social and political change in Southeast Asia on terms other than a teleological process of modernisation. Both centring the agency of trans-people themselves, and foregrounding political and economic processes, help to understand how trans- in Southeast Asia has long operated as a form of communication and connection. Seeing transpuan as a claim to recognition influenced by regional hierarchies of economic development helps to understand how Southeast Asian trans-history is shaped by and exceeds the boundaries of the nation-state.









Tang S



Place of publication

London; New York

Title of book

Queer Southeast Asia

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