Mobile Bodies: The Gender Performance and Migration Experience of Filipino Trans Women Entertainers in Japan
Using a qualitative approach to my research, I gathered data through participant observations, semi-structured interviews, and focus group discussions in Tokyo, Manila, and Cebu. The twelve interviews and two FGDs comprised questions related to their personal background, gender identity, visa and job application process, migration and work experience in Japan, romantic relationships, and personal beliefs. In the course of their narratives, a collection of perceptions regarding gender identity, performance, and mobility arose. The analytical lens focuses on how they as performers, migrants, and romantic or life partners negotiate gender and race both in their private and public lives. Mapping the journey of these transpinay entertainers in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, I argue that their experiences in Japan as transpinay migrants have affirmed their gender identity and strengthened or weakened their sense of belonging to the Philippines where transgender visibility and activism has drastically changed over the years.