Over the Black Rainbow

Yoppy Pieter

 
 “I am really worries with the safety of the students should this Islamic school still operates, we’re already at constant threat now,” said Shinta Ratri who leads Al-Fatah since 2008. Al-Fatah did not only function as one of the room for Muslim transgender to study Islam, but also as a medium for non muslin transgenderto have a discussion regarding social issue and religious tolerance.
 

Indonesia as the most populous Muslim country has a long history of paranoia against Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT). The fear itself has driven many actions, mostly against the LGBT community. One of the most recent ones happened in February 2016, where an organization pressured the local government to close a transgender Islamic school in Yogyakarta.

Indonesia as the most populous Muslim country has a long history of paranoia against Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT).

Transgenders have always been a part of the multicultural Indonesian society since way back. Unfortunately, these days there is seemingly lack of understanding of the need for diversity especially one that tolerates gender and sexual expression. The lack of understanding also correlates with the increase in religious persecution, including barring the transgender from practicing one religion.

 Endang grew surrounded by Islamic education to the point that she had several achievements in Koran recital. As a transgender Muslim, Endang felt studying the Koran is one of her treasured achievement. After she decided to become a transgender, her family and the society shunned her until she find solace in Al-Fatah.
 “When I was a kid, I grew surrounded by Islamic education. I can’t tell them this story when they insult me just because I am transgender,” says Yetti. “Islam is not complicated, but their behavior just ruin Islam that has beautiful teachings,”
 “To have a Friday prayer, I need to look for a mosque that’s far away from where I stay. I did this so I won’t disturb how others pray,” said Ririn. The male gender expression does not guarantee the transgender to live without stigma.
Transgenders have always been a part of the multicultural Indonesian society since way back.

Yoppy Pieter visited the students one month after Al-Falah was forcibly closed. On that occasion, they told him their stories, as a transgender and as a Muslim in a society that should provide freedom of religious practice.

This series was part of a LGBT photography exhibiton in the Erasmushuis, Jakarta, Indonesia, February 2017 in co-production with Document Our History Now and with the support of the embassy of the Netherlands.