Minority gender groups beyond the binary gender construction, such as calalai (masculine women), calabai (feminine men), and bissu (neither men nor women), can be found within the Bugis community.
These groups are considered outsiders in many places and often face discriminatory treatment.
However, in the Bugis community in the Bonto Matene Village, Segeri District, Pangkajene Islands Regency, where the majority are Muslims, these gender minority groups are accepted and live alongside the rest of the community.
Five UGM students, as part of the UGM Student Creativity Program (PKM) in Social Sciences and Humanities Research (RSH), conducted in-depth research on gender diversity in the Bugis community, which has managed to coexist inclusively with the local community.
They conducted their research over four months titled “Leaving No One Behind: Exploring Gender Diversity in the Bugis Community as an Effort to Build an Inclusive Society.”
“The existence of genders other than male and female in Islam is considered to violate religious law, but the Bugis community in Bonto Matene Village, which is predominantly Muslim, still recognizes the existence of genders beyond male and female,” explained team member Atikah Inayah (Philosophy).
Inayah was joined by Danu Saifulloh Rahmadhani and Wahida Okta Khoirunnisa (Philosophy), Tri Utami (Social and Political Sciences), and Muhammad Yusuf Aryotejo (Law).
With their research, the students aimed to understand the values and norms that underlie the Bugis community’s acceptance of gender diversity and the involvement of gender minority groups in cultural roles.
Based on their findings, Inayah revealed that the recognition and acceptance of gender diversity by the Bugis community is built upon three forms of relationships based on the value of siri’ na pacce, which is a cultural value that upholds dignity, honor, and humanity.
Siri’ na pacce is essentially an integration of religious and cultural values that play a vital role in the lives of the Bugis community.
Inayah explained that the recognition and acceptance of gender diversity are shaped by primary relationships, rights/the acceptance of equality among humans that fosters respect, and community values.
“This recognition and acceptance also represent the actualization of Islamic teachings in the dimensions of humanity and culture, emphasizing the importance of getting to know each other, respecting differences, and helping each other in goodness,” added Tri Utami.
The group also measured social inclusion based on specific aspects or domains. The analysis showed that the level of inclusivity accepted by gender minority groups in the Bonto Matene Village falls into the “good” category with an average of 72.29 percent.
Therefore, according to the students, it is essential to internalize the value of siri’ na pacce into society through family institutions, education, and government agencies.
Author: The UGM gender diversity team