Social class and gender in the Philippines

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I have met significantly more than a few Asian Autogynephiles (AGPs) and their profile is quite clear.

They tend to have their first ‘feelings’ at around the age of 15-16 and begin HRT, usually in the form of contraceptive pills, very soon after that. While late-transitioning AGPs do exist, they are rare. A good recent example would be Ian King, a racing driver and son of a wealthy ‘Fil-Am’ family. He is from an elevated social class.

This individual fits the Western profile of AGP exactly, but that appears to be related to his social class. This is interesting, because a similar social divide is found between masculine presenting homosexual males, macho gays locally or the New Gay Man, and the traditional highly feminised type. Here again, the former tends to be rare and found only in higher social strata, while the latter is both much more common and more associated with lower social class.

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Unlike the more common profile in the West, where age of transition is elevated. Most AGP transwomen in Asia transition much younger, typically in the age range 16-22. For example: ‘I transferred to a public school for my high school days. When I was in my sophomore year, however, something strange happened regarding my personality which I could not comprehend. It’s not just that my voice changed, new hair started to grow, and inevitable pimples began to appear. I loved to mingle with my girl classmates, rather than the boys. I loved to be with them most of the time.’

And another: ‘I’m an Asian transsexual living in USA and I have mad respect for (ladyboys)…in fact, I’m also attracted to them.’ This statement implies attraction to femininity and that the person expressing it must be Autogynephilic, since that person is an MtF transitioner.

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The rewards discussed by Blanchard, leaving aside cross-dressed fetishistic masturbation, which is usually only found in AGPs, are similar for both types of MtF, whether transsexual or transvestite. The most important of these is affirmation, or acceptance as a woman. Indeed the Asian model is current throughout most of the world, with only certain parts of the West, notably the Anglo-Saxon and particularly USican ones, being different.

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This young male bought his parents a new house from his performance of femininity. He was twelve. There is no prejudice against this.

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The social class divide

In the Philippines at least, the social class divide seems to affect trans expressions in two ways. Firstly, for young working-class males, there is no real resistance to feminisation, on the part of the society around them. In fact there is some encouragement for it, especially if the boy is beautiful. This appears to lead directly to a raised level of HomoSexual TransSexualism, (HSTS) since a ‘gay boy’ could never be accepted as a man. Therefore there is no point in him even trying, especially when, if he is attractive as a girl, he can gain both social and sexual affirmation through that.

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The above is the pathway which most people think of when they consider concepts like ‘ladyboy’ – a highly feminised, homosexual male; in fact a complete Sexual Invert. However it also provides succour for adolescent AGPs because transition gives them a path to pursue their own expression of femininity, without being overly criticised, because homosexuality is not disapproved of here as it has been in the West. Effectively, they align themselves with HSTS even though they are not themselves homosexual, because being both heterosexual and feminised, for a male, is more problematic here. Having boyfriends, or at least making a show of pursuing them, gives them cover.

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Kabaklaan

A subculture which supports this position is well established across southeast Asia and in Luzon, in the Philippines, it is called kabaklaan. This is ‘the way of the bakla’ or the unmasculine male. But note that kabaklaan draws no distinction between males who feminise because they want straight male lovers (HSTS) and those who do so because they want to ‘be’ women. For the culture these are united: both are baklas, although it is recognised that there are different forms. Equivalents to this culture appear all over the region and indeed, the world.

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This means that for a young male with AGP, it is relatively easy to transition. They just adopt a bakla identity – or a ‘gay’ one in Western terms – which will give them access to a ready-made subculture that will support them. The society around them will accept them as ‘gay’ and for the most part leave them alone. Such males are likely to seek sex with men partly because of pseudo-bisexualism, which describes where a male with AGP does this to affirm his pseudo-feminine alter-ego, but it also encourages the rest of the culture to see them as ‘gay’ and as part of kabaklaan, which is a semi-protected status.

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Being part of kabaklaan, or its equivalents elsewhere, affords another opportunity for AGPs. Many of them are strongly attracted to HSTS, indeed sometimes even more strongly than they are to natal women, probably because of HSTS’ elevated femininity. This is something all AGPs desire to possess, both socially and sexually. Being a part of kabaklaan puts them in close contact with their sexual targets, in a manner which is unlikely to be commented on by the broader culture.

However, all of this only occurs in the lower social strata, where there is no taboo about anal sex and where male feminisation is commonplace and largely accepted. In the higher social strata, Western modes of behaviour are much more usual and here, male feminisation is despised. Boys are expected to be masculine and if they are not, then they are unlikely to be successful in whatever career their family propels them towards. Male bonding is a powerful part of life in this group and masculine men will not bond with overtly feminised males. Effectively, even if such a boy were born into a middle-class family, by behaving like a bakla he would propel himself out of that culture and into the more traditional one, whether he likes it or not.

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A Filipina ladyboy or transwoman, locally known as a bakla. These nearly always come from poorer backgrounds.

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This has effects on male homosexuals too. The first is that within this part of the culture, the ‘macho gay’, a hyper-masculine expression of male homosexuality, is dominant over the traditional type, to the erasure of the latter. That is because the negative social consequences of feminised appearance or behaviour are just too costly. In order to maintain his middle-class social status, a homosexual male in this group must remain masculine.

So, in the upper social strata, we tend to find masculine homosexual males and a profile of Autogynephile which is rare, but much more like the Western one, and in the lower, highly feminised femboys and ladyboys, alongside transitioned AGPs. (But note that the culture itself draws no distinctions between these latter types: they are all baklas, or whatever the local term is.)

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A typical Filipino ‘macho gay’ the equivalent to the Western New Gay Man. Ooh check those boobs…

The West

This is paralleled exactly in the West, where the New Gay Man had, by 2000, almost completely destroyed the older, feminine or ‘pansy’ homosexual type. This might have been due to a movement of homosexual identity away from the working classes and towards the liberal, educated ones. In 1950, for example, sexually receptive males were considered ‘homosexual’ and their partners were not; and the recipients overwhelmingly tended to be working-class; on the other hand, their lovers tended to be more middle-class.

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Social Class divisions elsewhere

These distinctions, which remain in place in southeast Asia, no longer do in the West, or at least they are not dominant. Interestingly, one result of the blanket condemnation of male femininity, the adoption, in other words, of middle-class mores by the homosexual community, is that in recent years there has been a resurgence of MtF transition, as naturally feminine homosexual males reject the foetid atmosphere of the New Gay Man’s locker rooms. This looks very much like a fight-back.

This hostility towards male expressions of femininity also acts on AGPs. Within this social class group, boys cannot express femininity in adolescence and so their activities, if they are Autogynephilic, must be covert, just as they were in the West until recently, and for the same reasons.

In fact, this culture is even more hostile to male feminisation than is currently the case in the West, where in a strange inversion, the educated middle classes have become somewhat more supportive of male femininity. This is allowing some Autogynephiles within that culture to transition in adolescence, when beforehand they probably could not have.

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