Informal Session: Transgender voices in the Pacific societies and artistic creation: Facing legal, social and linguistic constraints
Organizers: Sarah-Marie Cabon, Serge Tcherkezoff, Fata Simanu-Klutz (in absentia)
This informal session is aimed first at comparing across several Pacific societies, the current legal rights of transgender people, those extended and those still denied. Secondly, it aims to connect the legal situation to social attitudes, expressed in everyday conversation and official discourse and particularly in the words used in the local languages by transgendered to talk about themselves as against the language of 'others' (mainstream audience, church and state leaders, scholars etc). Thirdly, it aims at recognising the importance of the artistic creation scene, which has been flourishing already for some time with bringing on stage MtoF characters, but recently entered into an absolute novelty when putting on stage, in playrights and literature, FtoM persons. Indeed, a fourth aim of the workshop would be to address the current imbalance in the scholarly and artistic dialogues with MtoF versus FtoM persons. Why mobilities in MtoF transgender experience have been especially "visible" to outsiders (journalists, academics, filmmakers) and publically discussed, whilst the FtoM transgender experience has been virtually invisible and muted in public and scholarly debates.
Such a broad comparative regional survey and data base has not been attempted, even if there are a few studies of the legal situation and the social attitudes published for some countries (e.g. see the important collection of Besnier and Alexeyeff 2014, and, on Tonga and Samoa, Farran and Su ªa, 2005, Farran 2014). The comparison should also bring in the picture the Francophone territories, of course French Polynesia but also New Caledonia and Wallis-Futuna as the two former Collectivities are usually overlooked in Anglophone research more broadly.
Another important issue to be confronted is the critique of the "Melanesia/Polynesia" binary in most literature . It has been repeatedly said that transgenderism is known and visible in Polynesian societies, but absent in Melanesian societies. In the light of ongoing research in Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and Vanuatu this claim needs critical revaluation. Moreover this binary cannot accommodate the facts of migration and the formation of diasporic Pacific communities in many countries and the way in which Indigenous Oceanic and Western models of gender and sexuality interact in such contexts.
Sarah-Marie Cabon, Université de la Polynésie Française <firstname.lastname@example.org>;
Serge Tcherkezoff, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) <email@example.com>;
Fata Simanu-Klutz, University of Hawaii