Transgender Outcasts Give Lessons in Tolerance

Published: September 15, 2010

Mirrors were tucked behind embroidered drapes, prayer rugs spread over the carpet and fashion magazines replaced by copies of the Koran in preparation for breaking the fast at dusk on a quiet day near the end of Ramadan. In a quiet alley in the ancient Javanese city of Yogyakarta, Mariyani, a 50-year-old transgender hairdresser, has turned part of her salon into an Islamic school.

It’s a place where lesbian, gay and transgender Muslims ­— banned from Islamic schools and unwelcomed at mosques — can safely pray and discuss their religion. “Tonight we are breaking the fast and praying with 90 orphans and poor women from a nearby village.

It’s my 50th birthday today and I want to thank God for giving me this time on earth. I will be called by God in the not too distant future, so I have to do the right thing,” says Mariyani.

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