Once kingmakers in one of the most gender fluid societies on earth, the intersex bissu priests of Sulawesi — Indonesia's third-largest island — are on the verge of disappearing after years of cultural decline and increasing persecution.
It is a cultural tradition that has persisted for centuries in a Muslim-majority country, but the tradition of revering priests who were born intersex with male and female characteristics — known as bissu — is dying out, locals and anthropologists have warned.
The Bugis people live mainly on Sulawesi and believe in five genders including LGBTI people, with the most important being the bissu.
In addition to cisgender males (oroani) and females (makkunrai), there are female men (calalai), male women (calabai) and then the intersex bissu. In Pangkep Regency, South Sulawesi, the population of bissu has dwindled to just six people, with only five of them still performing traditional priesthood roles, according to Dasriana, a cultural officer employed by the local government. Read more via ABC