Categorizing Gender in Queer Yangon


“Queer” research invariably entails practices of labelling and ascription, often through the adoption of local vernacular categories from the field. In Myanmar, practices of labelling are commonly unarticulated, and local terms are contested. Acts of categorization are thus challenged. The two dominant, non-gender normative subject positions are “open”, denoting a feminine image, and “hider”, denoting a masculine image. An examination of the elements of external image, internal mind/heart and karma and of the boundaries between Burmese “open” and “hider” subject positions permits a better understanding of these positions. While Burmese “queer” categories mark out a field of gender liminality, their use for individual ascription complicates existing conventions.