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Open Access Publications from the University of California

In Defense of the X: Centering Queer, Trans, and Non-Binary Pilipina/x/os, Queer Vernacular, and the Politics of Naming


This essay is an engagement of the dialectics of naming and violence, discussed from the perspectives of the trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming Pilipina/o/xs whom we interviewed in the Summer of 2020.  Applying a transnational queer diasporic methodology, we center their material realities, which we feel remain missing in both scholarly and popular debates about the term “Filipinx.”  Indeed, it was LGBTQI+ Pilipinxs in North America who were the first to use the term “Filipinx” and “Pilipinx” in online spaces. Instead of positioning the X as our main focus, we use it as an entry point to discuss the violence that LGBTQI+ people of Philippine-descent have historically faced for simply identifying themselves on their own terms. It is toward such violence that the queer, non-binary, and trans people who began using the X and other linguistic innovations were and are asserting themselves. Revealed are perspectives and practices of dignity, self-determination, resistance against cultural homogenization and gender gatekeeping, and self-naming as radical imagination initiated by those facing intensified carcerality and other forms of violence that stretch within and beyond nation-state boundaries.

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