Thai LGBT couple speak out against Indonesia’s online bullying


Twenty-nine-year-old Jasmine, who asked to use a pseudonym to protect her privacy, moved to northern Thailand last year to be with her boyfriend, a 60-year-old American. As a trans woman, Jasmine, feared coming back to Indonesia after suffering bullying from her peers while growing up. “My friends called me banci or bencong [a slur akin to ‘tranny’]. As a kid, I always felt unworthy and [this name-calling] has left lifetime trauma,” said Jasmine, who was born and raised in Sukabumi, West Java. Determined to find a new life, Jasmine studied hard and landed a job in Abu Dhabi as a hotelier. There, she met her boyfriend online and moved to Thailand in March last year – just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit – so they could be together. Jasmine says she feels safe and accepted by the Thais – despite the language barrier. Jasmine, who volunteers at a local foundation and has obtained a visa, is aware of the hatefulness of Indonesian internet users especially toward members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. She cited a fellow trans woman with a huge following on Instagram who regularly faces transphobic comments, as an example.

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