This article explores the promise of an archipelagic analytic for transgender studies through an interpretive investigation of a beauty pageant in the Philippines. Drawing on transgender studies scholarship and the emergent field of archipelagic studies, this article traces how the pageant underwent a series of archipelagic turns when the slate of candidates shifted from representing nations to representing islands, provinces, and regions across the Philippine archipelago. This turn, the author argues, displaced the centrality of the nation and put forward a translocal and translingual focus that centered islandness and island-island relations as the primary categories of embodiment and performance. In the conclusion, this article argues more broadly that transgender studies, with its discontiguous and decentered character, can also be characterized in archipelagic terms. Taken together, this article adds a new heuristic to transgender studies scholarship, while also including transgender in the growing corpus of work in archipelagic American studies that challenges “continental exceptionalism.”

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