When Shinta Ratri prays, like many devout Indonesian women she dons a mukena, a long flowing gown often embroidered with colourful and intricate designs. But she finds it hard to do so in most public mosques in this small city on the Indonesian island of Java. The reason, she says, is that she began life as a man. According to Shinta, transgender people in Indonesia find it hard to pray at ordinary mosques, where men and women are divided and they often elicit hostile reactions from other congregants. It was for this reason that Shinta helped found the Pondok Pesantren Waria al-Fatah, the world’s only Islamic boarding school for transgender people. “In the public mosque we made people uncomfortable. We needed a safe place for trans women to pray,” she says.
November 15 / The Guardian