• Do you have any posts about, or could you maybe write something about, bakla and tomboys in the Philippines?

Pre-colonial or current? Queers were accepted in society before the Spaniards and they weren’t treated any differently. And actually even a few of our deities were transgendered like the Tagalog deity Lakapati who was the deity of fertility for the fields and crops and was the one of the most worshiped and respected. Also when it came to the priestesses, our katalonans, babaylans, etc. though it was generally seen as a role for women, there were reports of those who were queer, and if a man wanted to be a babaylan they had to crossdress, so crossdressing wasn’t something new to the islands. Along with crossdressing they also had to in a sense of the word “gender cross”, as they not only looked like a woman but they were seen as a woman with all the social standings of a woman, which in pre-colonial times women held a high standing in society and were treated as equals to men. The only difference between the two was that the male crossdresser/gendercrosser, the “bayoguin” couldn’t have kids.

Back then it wasn’t only babae and lalaki that made up genders as only being two, in pre-colonial times we had terms for various genders. So it’s not like how people view it today, with bayoguin, bakla, bayot, bantut, asog, etc. as different types of sexuality (in English terms I mean by the use of identifying those who are bi, lesbian, gay, etc., but they were viewed as different genders.) So those who showed these “gender crossing” behaviors, they didn’t identify themselves as gay or lesbian in views of sexuality, but transgendered or transexual, or simply another gender. Of course these views changed when Catholicism came.

Now what is mentioned above mainly applies to those who were born physically as a male. There are no records (at least I know of) of those who were born as a female so we don’t know about them. However it is generally assumed that they were accepted as well seeing as how women were respected and were able to take on the roles of men if they wished such as daughters of Datu’s being able to take the leadership roles of their father (or mother) and fight alongside other warriors. So it was easy for a women to take on roles men generally did and if a transman or queer woman wanted to take on generally viewed male roles they can. However again, we don’t know about that because there are no records, we can only assume based on the tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality, crossdressing, and transgender in pre-colonial times.

Also on another note, there is a passage in the Boxer Codex under the section titled “Account of the Pagan Rites and Ceremonies of the Indians of the Philippines Islands” referring to the bayoguin (the male to female gender crossers/transgendered) who did marry another male. Here is the passage translated in English.

“Ordinarily they dress as women, act like prudes, and are so effeminate that one who does not know them would believe they are women. Almost all are impotent for the reproductive act, and thus they marry other males and sleep with them as a man and a wife with carnal knowledge.”

This passage is different from those described by missionaries seeing as there is no judgement such as saying how much of a sin it was, etc. and just said stated as is which has convinced many scholars identifying the anonymous author as not being a missionary. Also what’s interesting to note is that the author of the manuscript described them as being a women if you did not know them. This has hinted that the claims by others such as Loarca and Loaisa that the babaylans, katalonans, were mostly women, that most of those women could have actually been bayoguin seeing as how they were viewed and believed to be a women so much they were seen as actual biologically born women.

If you want to know more, both pre-colonial and current you can read the book Philippine Gay Culture: Binabae to Bakla, Silahis to MSM by J. Neil C. Garcia.

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