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Critique History Humanities Nonfiction Other Social Sciences

We Who Are Sexy: Christine Jorgensen’s Transsexual Whiteness in the Postcolonial Philippines

By Susan Stryker, 2009

This article offers a close reading of the little-known 1962 Filipino feature film Kaming Mga Talyada (aka. We Who Are Sexy), an ostensibly comic popular entertainment that revolves around the appearance of transsexual celebrity Christine Jorgensen at a Manila nightclub. The film stages substantive questions about the effects of the Eurocentric medico-juridical discourse of transsexuality on the densely layered colonial histories of local Filipino constructions of sex/ gender/sexuality particularly the intertwined categories of talyada and bakla. Transsexual embodiment and gender identity are interpreted as anatamo-political somatechnologies that enmesh individual bodies with the biopolitical project of the state-based sovereignty; thus, the micro-political agonistics of transsexual/talyada interactions within the film enact a complementary narrative, played out on the macro-political scale, about the construction of the heteronormative Christian nationalist genders that sustain and reproduce Filipino sovereignty against the twin threats of Islamist and US imperialist challenges to the sovereign territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.

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