Transgendered community looks to Jokowi

Published: November 20, 2012

Anticipating that their long fight for recognition from the Jakarta administration may come to an end, a group of transgendered persons brought a long wish list to City Hall on Monday.

They were scheduled to meet the new governor, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, in whom they believed would be able to give them better access to jobs and health care.

“We know that Pak Jokowi is close to unfortunate people, so we hope he can listen to us and give attention to the transgendered community because we are also part of the city,” said Indonesia Transgender Forum chairperson Yulianus Rettoblaut.

Yulianus, or Mami Yuli, said that transgendered individuals, locally known as waria, often found it hard to look for descent jobs because many people still see them “different”.

“We also want to suggest to him [Jokowi] to provide training for our community to improve our skills so we can have better employment opportunities,” she said.

However, their list of expectations could not be delivered directly to the governor, as their visit did not fit in Jokowi’s tight schedule. Instead, the group was received by Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) chief Effendi Anas.

For the transgendered individuals who earn their living by working as street prostitutes, Satpol PP is their nemesis.

Media reports record that many of them caught in raids have been beaten by Satpol PP officers.

In 2008, one individual died during a raid around Taman Lawang park, Central Jakarta. She drowned in Ciliwung River after fleeing a hail of stones thrown by officers.

The officers said that raids were conducted in order to create a more comfortable living environment, free from “people with social and community problems” (PMKS), in which transgendered persons are often listed.

Instead of allowing the visiting group to get everything out of their chest, Effendi talked them into staying off the street.

“You can draft a proposal about nursing homes and various programs to help improve the lives of your community and hand it to Pak Jokowi and the social agency,” Effendi said in the meeting.

Yulianus said the meeting with Effendi was insightful.

“Now we know why Satpol PP officers conduct raids. I will inform my friends to behave in a more appropriate manner, including wearing descent clothes so raids will not be needed in the future,” she said.

Merlyn Sofyan, the group’s chairperson for the western part of Indonesia that includes Jakarta, said that besides addressing employment opportunities, they also expected the administration to focus on the provision of health services as well as providing more shelters for the homeless in their community and nursing home for elderly individuals.

“There is this Jakarta Health Card program, we hope that program can reach our community too,” she said.

“We will keep campaigning to have Jakarta ID cards through proper procedures. If they are healthy, we believe they can be productive and be good for the society,” she said, adding that only 500 transgendered persons in Jakarta have Jakarta ID cards.

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