Trans people making the hajj to Mecca: Religiosity and social inclusion in Indonesia

Syamsurijal, Sharyn Davies, Muhammad Irfan Syuhudi, Muhammad Nur Khoiron, Halimatusa’diah, Nensia, Samsul Maarif

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Trans people in Indonesia have fought long and hard for social inclusion. In the town of Segeri in South Sulawesi, trans people have pro-actively sought such inclusion through making the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) and becoming recognised as a haji. This article draws on fieldwork conducted in Segeri with trans people preparing for, or who had already completed, the hajj. For these trans people, the hajj enables recognition as a legitimate part of Muslim Segeri society. After completing the hajj, trans people may be invited to take leading religious roles in Segeri ceremonies such as mappeca sure’ (a ritual commemorating the parting of the Red Sea by Moses, known in Arabic as Ashura) and assalama (a blessing and salvation ritual). Trans people in Segeri frame their pilgrimage to Mecca as a strategic model that other trans Indonesians can follow to gain social acceptance. This article focuses on the stories of two trans groups: bissu (transgender spiritual leaders) and calabai (trans women). It examines how the hajj enables trans people in Segeri to confirm themselves as good Muslims worthy of social acceptance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-363
Number of pages17
JournalIndonesia and the Malay World
Issue number151
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • bissu
  • Bugis
  • calabai
  • calalai
  • hajj
  • transgender

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