Essential But Not Essentialized

An Analysis of Sex and Gender Within Diasporic Filipinx/a/o Babaylan Discourse

  • Q Roxas


In recent years babaylan have become a figure of decolonization and indigenization for diasporic Filipinx/a/o. Babaylan were, in simplest terms, healers, shamans, and medicine people, who had a prominent societal status during the pre-colonial era on the Philippine archipelago. However, Spanish Catholics eliminated this social standing during the colonial period and imposed a new sex-gender system with a lasting legacy: the introduction of a gender binary, biological gender essentialism, gender roles, and uneven gender relations. Using a queer gender lens, I analyze the legacy and normalization of this Hispano-Catholic sex-gender system as an unquestioned set of assumptions within the discourse of diasporic Babaylan Studies. I suggest future academic inquiries should employ greater attention to gender diversity in Babaylan Studies discourse as part of an intersectional, decolonial praxis.


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Author Biography

Q Roxas

Q Roxas is a 3rd year Honours Political Science and Gender Studies student. Their research interests include Filipinx diaspora and identity, postcolonial and settler-colonial studies, and queer and gender theory. They are in the beginning stages of planning their honours thesis and hope to explore themes similar to the ones included in this article such as Filipinx diasporic identity, the effects of colonization contributing to trans-exclusive discourse, and decolonial Filipinx futurisms.

How to Cite
Roxas, Q. (2021). Essential But Not Essentialized: An Analysis of Sex and Gender Within Diasporic Filipinx/a/o Babaylan Discourse. On Politics, 14(2), 87-102. Retrieved from