Date of Award

Fall 12-2023

Degree Type

Honors Thesis


International Studies

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Studies

First Advisor

Ilaria Giglioli


Throughout Filipino television and film, it is difficult to ignore the almost always apparent bakla. The bakla, often portrayed as either an effeminate gay man or a trans woman, largely appears as a side character in many Filipino films. Many depictions of this queer figure in the past have cast them as merely comedic relief or perverted figures. However, within the past two decades of the 21st century, many Filipino films have been produced with a central bakla character. Through an analysis of five mainstream films from the years of 2013-2023, this project is seeking to answer how mainstream depictions of the bakla in the 21st century both reproduce and challenge the dominant conception of the nuclear family in the Philippines. Despite heteronormative portrayals of the bakla in older films, I have found that more recent films positioning the bakla as the main character largely challenge and disturb our dominant understanding of the nuclear family. Although the depictions of these characters often reproduce the nuclear family, these women find agency in their negotiation and challenge to this seemingly fixed family structure. This research is important in bringing attention to how queer people challenge forms of oppression and expand our notion of belonging in the world through reformulations of kinship and renegotiations of family ties.