In the heart of Jakarta’s slums, a vibrant transgender community is using fashion to shine a light on their lives and the challenges of living in a densely populated, polluted city.
Picture this: on a makeshift catwalk, surrounded by curious neighbors, these incredible women strut their stuff. Their outfits? Imagine colorful dresses crafted from plastic cutlery and bottles. And, to add a touch of holiday cheer, some garments are transformed into festive Christmas tree ensembles. All of this is the brainchild of Mama Atha, the visionary behind the Sanggar Seroja dance studio and the de facto leader of the transgender community in Duri. The community, comprised mainly of buskers and makeup artists, affectionately refers to themselves as the “Trans Super Heroes.”
By showcasing their creativity on the catwalk, these incredible trans women are not just strutting their style but also sending a powerful message to the public. Their performances carry a unique ability to ignite a sense of urgency among people, urging them to address climate change. It’s a call to action, encouraging even the smallest steps like collecting and recycling plastic waste.
Beyond the environmental impact, these events play a crucial role in normalizing trans involvement in the local community. Through their vibrant displays of talent and fashion, the group is breaking down barriers and fostering acceptance.
It’s worth noting that in predominantly Muslim Indonesia, homosexuality remains a social taboo, though not explicitly illegal, except in the ultra-conservative province of Aceh.
Looking ahead, there’s concern among rights groups about potential risks to the LGBT and queer community due to impending changes in Indonesia’s criminal code, scheduled to take effect in 2026. Under these changes, a spouse, parent, or child could report morality-linked offenses, such as engaging in extramarital sex or even cohabitating.