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robertogreco : transgender   11

A Divinely-Inspired Gender: The Manang Bali Shamans of Sarawak - QueerLapis
"Nestled in the heart of Malaysian Borneo were the manang bali, a group of gender nonconforming shamans from the indigenous Iban tribe. They probably no longer exist due to mass conversions from animism to Christianity. Nevertheless, their historical presence holds present-day Malaysia accountable for its failure to recognise and appreciate its non-cisnormative and non-heteronormative past. The reality that the manang bali existed and were once lauded for their spiritual roles challenges and disrupts today’s state-sanctioned transphobic and homophobic rhetoric.

Spiritual intermediaries – such as shamans, mediums, witch doctors, ritualists and healers – who manifest gender non-conformity reside in many corners of Asia. These include the Ngaju Dayak basir of Indonesian Borneo, the bissu of the Indonesian Bugis people, the nat kadaw of Burma and the hijra of India.

The manang bali were one among many types of manang, albeit a minority group of shamans. They are also referred to as ‘transvestite’ or ‘transformed’ shamans, although Penelope Graham uses the latter term to denote her preference for a more open-ended approach in trying to understand these gender non-conforming individuals. This detail is important to avoid a simplistic and anachronistic interpretation of these shamans as transgender, intersex, genderqueer or cross-dressing individuals. While there were female-bodied manang bali who lived as men, the majority were biological males who lived as women.

According to existing resources, the manang bali receives directives, through dreams, from the transformed petara or deity Menjaya Manang Raja to become shamans. They must obey, or face pain of death or madness. As part of responding to their spiritual calling, male-bodied individuals adopted the mannerisms, attire and lifestyle of women, even taking on male partners as husbands. Against Valerie Mashman’s belief that the manang bali had ‘no gender and both genders at the same time’, I argue that there is every indication to show that the manang bali lived solely as women in accordance with divine imperatives. The gender and sexual transitions that occurred were integral to the initiation process of the shaman, adopting a new personal and social identity in order to serve the community. Due to these extreme requirements, the manang bali occupied the highest ranks of shamanhood.

Like other manang, the manang bali possessed a human body (tuboh). Nevertheless, as exalted beings, they were believed to have the ability to interact directly with the soul (semengat) as well as the ‘plant aspect (ayu or bunga)’ or health dimension of a person, and with spirits or ghosts (antu). Thus, they had the ability to pierce the sebayan or spirit world. The manang bali were most sought after for their healing abilities. They are said to have received this trait from their patron Menjaya Manang Raja who possessed the ‘ubat penyangga nyawa’.

Nevertheless, the manang bali did not experience unanimous acclaim despite their prowess as spiritual mediators. While they were appreciated for their services and well remunerated, they were simultaneously ‘devalued as lacking social prestige and even an object of ridicule in Iban eyes’. Iban social systems are based on strict gender binaries, and gender transitioning would not have been commonplace. Hence, the manang bali would have caused a sense of unease in the Iban communities despite their divinely-inspired gender status.

All too often, Malaysian leadership experiences a convenient amnesia about the historicity of Malaysia’s gendered and sexual diversity. Revisiting the manang bali provides an opportunity to reconnect with what Farish A. Noor refers to as ‘a deconstructive form of political history’. This form of history gives voice to a dimension of Malaysian reality that has hitherto been overlooked or suppressed, often due to – I add – narrow interpretations of religious modernity. Reconnecting with the manang bali calls to question Malaysia’s antagonistic attitudes towards citizens who either self-identify or are labelled as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, genderqueer, intersex, mak nyah, wanita keras, lelaki lembut, pengkid, cross-dresser, drag queen and queer in their myriad forms.

Gender nonconformity may not be the norm for early Iban communities. Nevertheless, they were accepting and appreciative of the Manang Bali because they realised that the transformed shamans were an integral part of their communities who had many gifts and talents to offer. What would happen, I wonder, if present-day Malaysians of all gender and sexual persuasions courageously took a leaf out of the history book of the Ibans, and learned ways of living together in mutual respect and appreciation in the midst of persistent and irreconcilable differences?"
gender  malaysia  gendernonconformity  non-binary  history  india  indonesia  borneo  shamans  manangbali  sarawak  transgender  intersex  genderqueer  valeriemashman  josephgoh 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Book Review: Love And Other Words I Mispronounced — ONI MAGAZINE
"Instead of layers of irony and distance that, like with the poets referenced above, add up to a superficial, sarcastic, hipster-ish voice what this book offers is a sincere expression, beauty in vulnerability, and self-reflection and a search for truth in the aftermath of an abusive relationship."
jamieberrout  poetry  instagtam  blogs  blogging  socialmedia  multimedia  gumroad  transgender  dictionaryofobscuresorrows  johnkoenig  kierra  loveandotherwords  words  poems  writing  books  vulnerability 
february 2018 by robertogreco
When You Try to Change People That's Not Love, It's Domination | On Being
"In an interview conducted nearly thirty years ago, social visionary bell hooks had this to say about love and domination:
“I want there to be a place in the world where people can engage in one another.”


While hooks was discussing racial and gender representation in film, her statement can be broadly applied to relationships at home, in neighborhoods, in cities, and across whole societies.

To say “I want there to be a place in the world where people can engage in one another’s differences in a way that is redemptive” is to exercise one’s moral, social, and theological imagination. It is to pray and think expansively, imagining a world yet unborn into being. It is to recognize that difference need not be an occasion for brutality, but an occasion for mutual enhancement.

“I want there to be a place in the world” is the line poets, musicians, and storytellers utter before composing and what first-time parents pronounce while staring at their sleeping newborn: the desire to see one’s significant other or child or close friend given the space to flourish as themselves, not as someone else.

Qualifying “I love you” with “In order to love you, I must make you something else” is to use love as a pretext for domination, not as a springboard for generative companionship. To say, “In order to love you, I must make you something else” is to blur the good news that a loving God and community receive us as we are, not as we want to be or pretend to be. Much of Christian preaching and formation emphasizes the latter — the pretending — which feeds the pious-sounding quip:
“God loves you just the way you are, but too much to leave you that way.”


While well-meaning, that statement plays into the assumption that God will love us more as we become something or someone else.

Domination is the attempt to change others, recast them, remake them, possess them, control them. Domination is what took place in the Canadian residential schools. Masterminds of the schools thought they were being loving toward the indigenous people they enrolled, but they were actually practicing a logic of colonialist domination.

Domination is an uncreative, if convincing, imitation of love. Love says, “I receive you as you are and want to imagine a world in which you are received as you are,” exposing domination as a failure of imagination; love is imagination when it is given permission to meditate on endless possibility. Like planting a seed, watering it, and watching it become the tree you always knew it was. The seed isn’t being made into something else, but is living out its fullest potential, the way a sculptor discovers her subject in a block of stone. This is one way of seeing the life of love, or what the Rev. Marcus Halley calls “episodes of grace,” a series of moments in which we are awakened to the unique ways in which we are loved by God; not possessed, recast, or remade by God, but loved.

It is difficult for many of us to discern the difference between love and domination because so much of what we’ve been told was love throughout our lives was actually domination. This was apparent to me in a coffee shop conversation I had with a person who had recently disclosed to their closest family members that they are transgender. After two years of conversations with those family members, that person was given an ultimatum by a sibling:
“We will always love you, but either you allow us to refer to you by the pronouns and name we grew up using for you, or we will be forced to end our relationship with you.”


This friend went on to say that nothing hurt more in that conversation than their sibling’s “but.” “That single word negated every word that preceded it,” they said. The sigh of relief my friend needed to breathe would have come had they heard they are loved and received as they are, full stop. No caveats, fine print, or need to pretend that they are something that they aren’t.

When Christians celebrate and receive the presence of God in the bread and wine of Eucharist, we hear what my friend so desperately wanted to hear from their family. This doesn’t mean that my friend, or any of us, is looking to simply feel good about ourselves, but that we yearn to be fully known, seen, and loved.

Public theology is at its best when it creates the space necessary for people of various gender identities, religious affiliations and non-affiliations, ethnicities, and economic levels to be known as their full selves, not pushed into a mold not meant for them. It is being less concerned about finding surface-level common ground than about holding space for people’s unique experiences of divinity and humanity."
domination  authority  broderickgreer  2017  bellhooks  teaching  relationships  power  brutality  violence  love  colonialism  control  self  humanism  huamnity  diversity  acceptance  inclusivity  gender  transgender  marcushalley  christianity  difference 
november 2017 by robertogreco
CHECK IT
"At first glance, they seem unlikely gang-bangers. Some of the boys wear lipstick and mascara, some stilettos. They carry Louis Vuitton bags, but they also carry knives, brass knuckles and mace. As vulnerable gay and transgender youth, they’ve been shot, stabbed, and raped.

Once victims, they’ve now turned the tables, beating people into comas and stabbing enemies with ice picks. Started in 2009 by a group of bullied 9th graders, today these 14-22 year old gang members all have rap sheets riddled with assault, armed robbery and drug dealing charges.

Led by an ex-convict named Mo, Check It members are now creating their own clothing label, putting on fashion shows and working stints as runway models. But breaking the cycle of poverty and violence they’ve grown up in is a daunting task.

Life for the Check It can be brutal, but it’s also full of hope and an indomitable resilience. At its heart, CHECK IT explores the undying friendship that exists between these kids – an unbreakable bond that is tested every day as they fight to stand up for who they are in a community relentlessly trying to beat them down. "

[See also:
"Louis C.K. Releases LGBT Gang Documentary ‘Check It’"
https://variety.com/2017/film/news/louis-c-k-releases-check-it-documentary-black-gay-gang-1202485039/

[Louis CK Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auaKQx0pVE0 ]
film  documentary  washingtondc  towatch  ganges  transgender  gay  lgbtq  2016 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Why We Put a Transgender Girl on the Cover of National Geographic
"We published an issue focused on gender at a time when beliefs about gender are rapidly shifting."

"Lots of people are talking about Avery Jackson, a nine-year-old girl from Kansas City who is the first transgender person to appear on the cover of National Geographic.

Since we shared photos of the cover of our special issue on gender on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, tens of thousands of people have weighed in with opinions, from expressions of pride and gratitude to utter fury. More than a few have vowed to cancel their subscriptions.

These comments are a small part of the profound discussion going on right now about gender. Our January issue focuses mostly on young people and how gender roles play out around the world. For one of our stories, which we also turned into a series of videos, we went to eight countries and shot portraits of 80 nine-year-olds, who talked to us in brave and honest ways about how gender influenced their lives.

One of them was Avery. She has lived as an openly transgender girl since age five, and she captured the complexity of the conversation around gender. Today, we're not only talking about gender roles for boys and girls—we're talking about our evolving understanding of people on the gender spectrum.

The portraits of all the children are beautiful. We especially loved the portrait of Avery—strong and proud. We thought that, in a glance, she summed up the concept of "Gender Revolution."

Like her, all of us carry labels applied by others. The complimentary ones—“generous,” “funny,” “smart”—are worn with pride. The harsh ones can be lifelong burdens, indictments we try desperately to outrun.

The most enduring label, and arguably the most influential, is the first one most of us got: “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” Though Sigmund Freud used the word “anatomy” in his famous axiom, in essence he meant that gender is destiny.

Today that and other beliefs about gender are shifting rapidly and radically. That’s why we’re exploring the subject this month, looking at it through the lens of science, social systems, and civilizations throughout history.

In a story from our issue, Robin Marantz Henig writes that we are surrounded by “evolving notions about what it means to be a woman or a man and the meanings of transgender, cisgender, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, agender, or any of the more than 50 terms Facebook offers users for their profiles. At the same time, scientists are uncovering new complexities in the biological understanding of sex. Many of us learned in high school biology that sex chromosomes determine a baby’s sex, full stop: XX means it’s a girl; XY means it’s a boy. But on occasion, XX and XY don’t tell the whole story.”

In another story, looking for a future-facing perspective on gender, we talked to kids. The same piece that features Avery showcases young people from the Americas to the Middle East, from Africa to China. These keen and articulate observers bravely reflected our world back at us.

Nasreen Sheikh lives with her parents and two siblings in a Mumbai slum. She’d like to become a doctor, but already she believes that being female is holding her back. “If I were a boy,” she says, “I would have the chance to make money … and to wear good clothes.”

I expect Nasreen will learn that gender alone doesn’t preclude a good life (or, for that matter, ensure it). But let’s be clear: In many places girls are uniquely at risk. At risk of being pulled out of school or doused with acid if they dare to attend. At risk of genital mutilation, child marriage, sexual assault. Yes, youngsters worldwide, irrespective of gender, face challenges that have only grown in the digital age. We hope these stories about gender will spark thoughtful conversations about how far we have come on this topic—and how far we have left to go."
2016  gender  genderidenity  identity  children  susangoldberg  nationalgeographic  agender  genderqueer  gendernonconforming  cisgender  transgender  classideas 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Sick | Micha Cardenas - Academia.edu
"In a way we’re all sick, but we’re all also caretakers,
family members, chosen and biological,
and we are all there for one another,
in need or to offer help,
in a society that would leave each of us in isolation,
we are finding ways of existing together, interdependent,
and however difficult it may be at times, with love."
michacárdenas  transgender  family  sexuality  2014  poems  care  society 
august 2014 by robertogreco
kat chastain - The Cave of the Past and Mother 2 and Mother 3
"Mother 2 feels like the team took a look back at Mother, kept the structure, looked for more than the skeleton of a plot that game had to run through the journey. It sticks around because it’s a kind of personal growth ritual or, rather, a ritual themed around personal growth. This is why it’s about reassembling forgotten memories. It maps onto my own experiences of probing back into childhood and adolescence, especially periods I had repressed to some degree, and seeing there the links of causality that, from my perspective as a child, I could not fully understand. Giygas is something you don’t want to remember, don’t know how to deal with. From around him, the color has been drained. Bodily sensations disappeared. Clanking robot bodies. Faceless bodies without identity. Giygas isn’t Ness’ fight, he’s yours. Only you can beat him. When you do, the TV shuts itself off. You’re done.

Then it fucking turns itself back on. Then, as a prize, it says: good job completing this journey with us, now stay in your fake bullshit pop art nostalgia theme park forever. I have spent a lot of time in fake nostalgia theme parks. I spent a lot of years trying to be Absolutely Safe because it felt like I couldn’t become an adult and that it would kill me to try. Sometimes I’ve gone back to old nostalgia bubbles because I could deal with them better than grappling with memories of what my life was actually like during those times. This was a coping strategy.

In real life, reassembling memories to understand them and fix your shit is hard. You don’t powerlevel through it. It’s untying knots in razorwire with the hope that you’ll come out the other end changed for the better and it’s slow and there aren’t carefully paced, escalating rewards throughout. You don’t know if there’ll be a reward at all. You do it because you can’t do anything else. Video Games were what I always did, compulsively, when I knew I had untying to do but I just couldn’t, so I needed someplace else to live for about twenty years.

Mother 3’s ending feels like a sigh. The whole game feels like a sigh. The whole game feels like an expression of puzzlement at making or playing these things. It says what it has to say about its predecessors and it turns itself off. Unlike last time, it stays off—it recreates Mother 2’s decadent ending in the form of a black screen where characters talk to you but you can’t see yourself or them or anything and it’s anticlimactic and then it’s over and you turn off the emulator and you’re alone in your room again and you might think: “that’s about the most lovingly crafted ‘fuck you’ to someone’s own creation I’ve ever seen.”"
art  politics  life  games  memory  feminism  transgender  childhood  gaming  videogames  mother2  mother3  mother  experience  memories  understanding  rewards  via:tealtan  earthbound  nintendo 
august 2013 by robertogreco
We Think He Might Be a Boy - Friends Journal
"I am at the dining room table, and my five-year-old is in the bathroom. After a bit, I realize that the water has been running for much longer than it takes for him to wash his hands. I hear cupboard doors opening and closing; I hear the rattle of things being taken down from shelves; he’s probably had to put a stool on top of a chair to reach.

“What are you doing in there?” I call.

There is a long pause. He’s definitely up to something.

Finally, he answers: “I am doing,” he says, “what I want to do.”

Let me introduce you to our son. We call him the Tiny Tornado.

He is not yet two and we still think he’s a girl. One day, he refuses every t-shirt in his drawer that has pink anywhere on it, or cap sleeves, or flowers. He puts on jeans and a plain white t-shirt. Later in the day, I’m cleaning out his older brother’s closet, bagging things for Goodwill, and he pounces on a worn-out Spiderman t-shirt that is much too big for him. He wears it all summer. I get it off him every five days or so to wash it, and he puts it back on as soon as it comes out of the dryer. I put his older brother’s outgrown clothes in the basement, and, with a pang, take most of the hand-me-downs from the twin girls down the street to Goodwill instead.

He is two. His brothers are three and six years older than him. We still think he’s a girl. We are at our homeschool group’s Christmas party and my friend Ann says to me, “I find it amusing that the Tiny Tornado is the most boyish of your children.”



He’s almost five, and the whole family goes to a conference for trans people, their allies and families, and people in the helping professions. The first morning, at childcare, a volunteer is helping him make his name tag and asks, “Do you want me to write that you like to be called he, like a boy, or she, like a girl?”

Nobody has ever asked him that before, but he answers without hesitation, and the volunteer writes “He” on the Tiny Tornado’s name tag.

The next night, we’re getting ready to go to the family pool party, to join a big happy splashing crowd of trans kids and adults and their families. As we’re changing, I tell him, “I think your blue shorts look enough like a swimsuit that you could wear them to the pool instead of your tankini.” He skips bare-chested down the hallway and spins through the hotel lobby, whirling in little celebratory dances."
children  gender  identity  2013  supenn  parenting  transgender 
august 2013 by robertogreco

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