By: Vernando Pratama Putra
The issue of gender and equality has always been an endless conversation in our country. Patriarchy culture becomes a law that is deeply rooted and cannot be changed anymore. Although NGOs and gender equality advocacy movements have sprung up, the practice of injustice continues to flourish in every level of society. Gender problems themselves are usually interpreted as something that deviates by the community, as is transgender. Sometimes, the community itself still lacks the meaning between transgender and transsexual. Indeed both of them have a relationship with the problem inherent in a person’s identity, but actually both have different meanings.
According to Fauzi Arizal’s explanation, in an online article Kompasiana entitled ‘Knowing Transgender and Transsexuals better,’ it is explained that transsexuals are people whose gender identity is opposite to their biological sex. They feel trapped in the wrong body. For example, the case of Reynaldi who was born as a man, but felt himself a woman. It is transsexual that can cause homosexual or lesbian behavior, but this behavior cannot be equated with homosexual or lesbian.
Transsexual men may be attracted to other men because they feel that they are woman, while explained again by Fauzi Arizal that transgender is a person whose manner of behavior or appearance doesn’t fit in with gender roles in general.
Transgender people are at various levels “violating” cultural norms about how men and women should be. A woman, for example culturally, is required to be gentler. If a man has that character, he is called transgender. People born with external genitals which are male-female combinations are also transgender. Transgender people also wear clothes of the opposite sex, both once and routinely. It is transgender behavior that might make some people change their sex, such as men to women, and vice versa.
It is undeniable that transgender people or better known as Waria in Indonesia are a group of people who are very vulnerable to discriminatory treatment. Those who have different gender identities and sexual orientations tend not to have many choices in carrying out their lives in the community. Waria’s behavior cannot be explained simply. The gender identity conflict experienced by waria can only be understood through a study of each stage of development in their life. Every individual will always develop. From these developments, individuals will experience changes both physically and psychologically. If the individual is unable to act according to the demands of the sex, then the individual can be considered deviating from what they should be.
The social order in society in Indonesia still mostly consider that waria is a “disease”, deviation, and social irregularity so that they have not been fully accepted in the community. The social problems faced by transgender people in Indonesia are still very complicated and complex due to various factors that are less supportive for them in living their lives properly.
According to data from the Directorate General of Administration and Population at the Ministry of Domestic Affairs, the number of waria in Indonesia in 2005 reached 400,000. The estimated number in 2011 is around 38,000 people and an increase of almost 30 percent compared to data available a decade ago (Ministry of Health in the Survey on The Quality of Waria’s Life, 2015).
Waria can be found in all regions in Indonesia. Data from the Ministry of Social Affairs (Kemensos) in 2012 states that Waria are found in 31 provinces except West Sulawesi and Jambi, with the most in East Java with more than 4,000 people (Ignatius Praptoraharjo, 2015). The data shows that there are still quite large numbers of waria in Indonesia and these figures are still quite abstract to illustrate how equality is for these waria.
Equality for waria in Indonesia has not yet been achieved because the cycle of assumptions from the community towards them has not disappeared and also because the lack of community acceptance of waria. A clear example can be seen from the life of waria in our country. Waria become very marginalized people. Disgust and a variety of society rejection is very massive against this group. Not only the people, the government and state officials even become the biggest perpetrators of waria’s group rejection. Many assumptions about waria tend to be negative so that rejection must be accepted, and this causes waria to eventually run into jobs that arouse people’s insult, such as buskers (known as pengamen in Indonesia), and commercial sex workers (CSWs).
This is supported by data obtained from a 2015 survey conducted by Ignatius Praptoraharjo, Laura Navendorff and Irwanto in the study of Survey on Quality of Waria’s Life, the survey proved that “Like most transgender people in various other places, more than two-thirds of respondents (67% ) in this survey claimed that the type of work they have is sex work and almost one third (27%) claimed busking as their main occupation. As many as 32% of respondents do side jobs as sex workers besides doing their main job.”
Maybe the assumptions about waria are considered trivial to the community, but this can affect the psychics of waria and stimulate them to do what is assumed by the community. On the other hand, it is like a famous saying, when you’re already wet, you should just swim all at once.
And this assumption causes inequality and problems for waria. Inequality for them can be seen in terms of education. Through an online article titled Waria, Citizens who are Vulnerable to Human Rights Violations by Kristian Erdianto, based on data from the Youth Transgender Studio (SWARA), of the 150 waria in Jakarta who join the studio, most of them only have a high school (SMA) educational background. Meanwhile, only about 1 percent are fortunate to get into college and get a bachelor’s degree of education (S1).
This causes the lack of opportunities for a waria to get a decent job. On the other hand, a 2015 survey conducted by Ignatius Praptoraharjo, Laura Navendorff and Irwanto in the study of Survey on Quality of Waria’s Life stated that “More than half of respondents reported that their education was lower than high school. For those who have graduated at a certain level of education, not all can continue their education to a higher level due to poverty or the possibility of discrimination.”
Thus, it can be concluded that waria have less education, while education is a basic necessity for the whole community. However, the facts show that in addition to not enrolling their education due to economic reasons, they also receive discrimination at school in the form of mockery, insults, rejection, to receiving violence treatment.
In the article Waria, Citizens who are Vulnerable to Human Rights Violations by Kristian Erdianto, it is stated that generally discrimination experienced by a waria has started to occur in school. On average, a child will realize that he is a transgender person when he is in puberty or during junior high school (SMP).
When they are undergoing the process of accepting a different identity, the majority experience verbal abuse or bullying. The discriminatory treatment does not only come from peers, often it also comes from the school. Finally, many of them decided to quit school because they could not stand the pressures from the surrounding environment. It is enough to illustrate that the inequality of waria group in education really occurs in society.
Besides in the field of education, waria also experience inequality in terms of rights related to population. Most of these waria do not have identification cards such as Family Cards (KK) and National Identity Cards (KTP). If waria do not have identification, it can cause complicated problems, such as the difficulty of getting a job, possibility of getting raids, to the difficulty of accessing social services issued by the government, like accessing basic services, such as BPJS health insurance, health services at banks, transportation services, and so forth.
Based on a survey by SWARA (Youth Transgender Studio) from a survey of 224 young transgender people assisted by Swara in Jakarta, only 34.4 percent of them have KTP (identification card). This is, among other things, because many of them are driven out of their homes or run away because they are not comfortable with the treatment they are receiving. They left home at a very young age and were forced to work and live on the streets.
In addition, inequality can arise from violence received by waria. Many raids were carried out to bring order to waria with the pretext of protecting. However, these raids sometimes lead to violence. Not only raids, but in waria’s living environments, the occurrence of violence against waria tends to be bigger.
Based on the Survey on Quality of Waria’s Life in 2015, it was stated that “Regarding the experience of violence, around two thirds (64%) of respondents reported having experienced at least one type of violence throughout their lives. The violence here is four types of violence, namely physical violence, psychological violence, sexual violence, and economic violence.”
This is enough to illustrate the inequality for waria because they receive treatment of violence, while they have the right to feel safe in the community.
Based on the above description, at this time, Social Inclusion is being intensified for vulnerable groups, including waria. This social inclusion is a bridge for waria to achieve equality as citizens who also have rights.
Forms of inclusion that can be done to achieve equality, for waria must be given the same administration services because this is something that is very basic, by providing equality in population services such as KTP and Family Card (KK).
This helps waria to access services, such as BPJS Health services, financial services at the Banks, and transportation services, as well as helping waria to get a job.
As what has been done by the Regional Government of Ujung Tanah Sub-District, Makassar, which supports equality in population administration for transgenders people. This was conferred on the agenda of dialogue with the Makassar Waria Community which was also attended by the Australian Ambassador to Women and Girls.
Based on an online news alert written by Kun Anang Supanto entitled Inclusive toward Waria, the Australian Ambassador appreciated Ujung Tanah Sub-District, stated that Ujung Tanah Sub-District Head, Andi Unru in his remarks, expressed his appreciation for the existence of transgender communities in Ujung Tanah administrative region. According to him, waria groups are inclusive groups so that the sub-district residents are aiming to live with them.
“We ensure that waria in Ujung Tanah are not discriminated against and live a decent life like ordinary citizens. They are given access to public services such as ID cards and business permits. They are also involved in the MTR (Makassar Tidak Rantasa) program,” said Andi Unru.
Representative of the waria community who is also the Chairwoman of the Makassar Waria, Bunda Lin expressed her gratitude to PKBI Program Peduli which has provided a lot of motivation, strengthened waria community and facilitated them. Thanks to the government, especially the village head, sub-district head and Social Service of Makassar for the access to support, assistance and services, such as access to having Family Card (KK), KTP, business permits, Healthy Indonesia Card (KIS), and various work assistance and skills.
In addition, the form of achieving equality can be done by increasing tolerance in the environment with waria. This can reduce all forms of violence that occur to transgender people. Tolerance can occur by changing the way we see waria. To achieve gender equality, the perspective should be one of the main focuses. To change a person’s behavior, it is also necessary to change the person’s perspective.
When the demands for equality that are often called not to touch the issue of perspective, then the struggle is only in vain. Calling for a new perspective is indeed not easy. When a view has taken root, even cultured by the community, bringing a new view is as if looking for a needle in a haystack. However, that does not mean impossible. Reality and perspective are formed by humans, so humans must have the ability to change them. The process is one thing that must be pursued in this regard. Of course the time required is not as short as turning the palm of the hand.
Other forms of equality can be achieved by establishing safe schools without bullying among students. With the establishment of a safe school, this can stimulate adolescents in puberty when they feel they can position themselves without mockery or even violence so that the basic right to education can be evenly distributed.
In addition, the thing that can be done is to create a religious space without intimidation for waria. Sometimes, waria are less valued when they want to worship because of the negative assumptions attached to them. Creating religious space, giving transgender people opportunities to worship according to their respective beliefs without intimidation or pressure is important.
This can be seen from Pondok Pesantren (Islamic Boarding School) Al-Fatah for Waria in Yogyakarta.
This pesantren is a picture of religious space created to ensure that waria have the right to worship without threats, intimidation or pressure.
Reporting from online news written by Ardhana Pragota entitled Pesantren Al-Fatah: Guiding Waria in the Crossing of Faith, stated that “Worship alone, which is a basic human right and in Indonesia (that should) be guaranteed through Article 29 of the 1945 Constitution, is difficult to be practiced by waria. They were insulted, shouted at, and talked about behidh their back. They feel uncomfortable worshiping in public places. In fact, fellow transgender people are also people who want to worship. Al-Fatah was established as a forum to fulfill their spiritual needs as ordinary people.” With the establishment of the Pesantren Al-Fatah, it becomes one of the social inclusion images for waria to exercise their right to worship.
In fact, Social Inclusion can be created if we as a society can change our perspective of vulnerable groups, including waria. Actually what builds our thinking or stigma against vulnerable groups is our perspective. Our perspective is still rooted in a perspective that refers to local presumptions. This local assumptions make us think something that deviates must be judged, in fact that assumption has killed our perspective in seeing vulnerable groups. By changing our perspective, we can build equality among vulnerable groups.
This essay was written by Vernando Pratama Putra for essay writing competition organized by Program Peduli. The views of the writer do not reflect the views of Program Peduli.