Indonesia's 'all-gendered' priests on verge of extinction

Indonesia's 'all-gendered' priests on verge of extinction

Less than 40 Bissu remain in just a few areas across South Sulawesi, they now perform cultural and shaman-like roles to prevent their traditions from dying.

Indonesia's all-gendered priests’ known as Bissu are on the verge of extinction in the country. According to anthropologists, less than 40 Bissu remain in just a few areas across South Sulawesi, they now perform cultural and shaman-like roles to prevent their traditions from dying.

Indonesia's 'all-gendered' priests on verge of extinction
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According to a report by news agency AFP, Nani, a Bissu in their 60s who was born male, said they faced opposition from their family when they experienced a gender identity crisis as a child, but was now at peace with who they are. "My family disliked it, especially my older brother," they recalled. "He kept beating me to force me to be a real man. I've tried to change but I could not."

Notably, the Bissu once lived a prosperous life. They were revered and owned lands granted by the Bugis Kingdom that preceded the modern-day Indonesian state. They were considered the intermediaries between God and the people," Halilintar Lathief, an anthropologist at Makassar State University said. However, in the 1950s, a rebellion led by the Islamic State of Indonesia group sought to create a caliphate in the country, leading to many Bissu being accused of violating Islamic principles and facing persecution. They were hunted, murdered, or forced to behave as masculine men and change their personalities.

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