CURA "Religious Activism, Conditions of Possibility, and the Rise of Online Trans Activism in Indonesia"

  • Starts: 12:00 pm on Friday, December 3, 2021
  • Ends: 1:30 pm on Friday, December 3, 2021
with Amirah Fadhlina, PhD Student, Anthropology Over the past two decades, Indonesia’s pluralist and tolerant image has shifted, in large part a result of the aggressive propagation of a discourse of moral degradation by conservative Islamic preachers. This moralizing discourse -- which increasingly focuses on influence of globalized LGBTQ activism in the country -- has wide circulation via the internet. While waria, the indigenous third-gender and largely working class community, has historically adopted a religious discourse to legitimize their gender identity, younger gender nonconforming Indonesian youth have identified a new framework for legitimacy via globalized LGBTQ discourses available on the internet. Today, there is a newly emergent voice in the digital sphere, led by a small group of middle-class Indonesian activists who identify as transgender. Their ‘passing’ identity (i.e. their medical transition), rather than their religious piety, has become the new signifier of their legitimate social status. This paper explores changes in local attitudes toward religious activism as a primary mode for creating legitimacy for gender nonconforming individuals in Indonesia. Using online ethnography to trace the visibility of trans and nonbinary youth on Indonesian online spheres, this paper argues that the internet has become a space for the proliferation of new discourses on sexuality. This new discourse provides an opportunity for medically transitioning individuals to promote the idea of ‘passing’ as the new trajectory of LGBTQ activism in Indonesia. Exploring contestations on multiple levels—local/global, religious/secular, lower class/middle class—this paper draws on literature of the new middle class and tomboi in Indonesia to highlight a new divide between waria’s locally practiced religious activism and the middle-class trans youth’s embodiment of a globalized LGBTQ lexicon. Co-sponsored with the School of Theology *Reading the paper in advance of the session is required. Email for your copy. Join Virtually at zoom meeting id: 978 5810 4239 passcode: 599536
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