What is the future of the transgender Indonesian Muslims?

What is the future of the transgender Indonesian Muslims?
A photo of Shinta Ratri, the leader of an Islamic boarding school. Photo from La Prensa Latina Bilingual Media


Anna Vu Kim

Southeast Asia and Pacific and Human Rights Researchers

Global Human Rights Defence

The Al-Fatah community center is a space for trans women to pray, learn the Quran, learn skills, or simply socialize without being judged for who they are, it accommodates the needs of trans individuals and creates a safe space for them to practice their religion. 

Shinta Ratri was a renowned activist and a leader of the center since 2014, Ms. Shinta collaborated with many non-profit organizations to further transgender rights in Indonesia. The death of Ms. Ritri in February brought much uncertainty to the transgender community center. The building is owned by the late leader's family - and they have asked Al Fatah to move out. The acceptance of the trans community in Indonesia's religious establishment is limited. Waryono Abdul Ghafur, director of Islamic centers at Indonesia's Ministry of Religion, says in a phone call with BBC News Indonesia, that the reality is that society "still rejects the social and religious status of transgender people". The Ministry of Religion has never been in direct contact with Al Fatah or facilitated any of its activities.

The difficulty here now is finding a new place and the money to fund it. It must be in an area that will accept the transgender community. It is encouraging that the community is very close-knit and determined to keep the transgender Muslim community alive. Its members are like family to each other, and will not give the hard work of Ms Ritri in vain.

Sources and further reading:

Front Line Defenders Asia Regional Award - Shinta Ratri, Indonesia, 2019, Retrieved on May 23, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJC21_C3XXk 

Trisha Husada, Silvano Hajid Maulana, BBC News Indonesia (May 14, 2023). The transgender Indonesian Muslims trying to secure their future, Retrieved on May 22, 2023, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-65316057 

Seth Mydans, The New Yourk Times (February 25, 2023). Shinta Ratri, Fighter for Transgender Rights in Indonesia, Dies at 60, Retrieved on May 23, 2023, from https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/25/world/asia/shinta-ratri-dead.html