The adoption of the label “LGBT” for Indonesia’s sexual minorities has increased their visibility but also made them a target of conservatives’ hostility, according to author/researcher Hendri Yulius Wijaya. Covid-19 restrictions have also taken a toll on Indonesian transgender communities, says the spokesperson for the trans advocacy group Perwakos. Because many trans women make their living as buskers, restrictions on access to public places has been a hardship. That was especially difficult in 2020 and 2021. “With the current relaxation of the restrictions, we can now work again,” said Febby Damayanti, 37, a trans woman performer and make-up artist.
Damayanti is a spokesperson for the advocacy group Perwakos in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city. The organization, with 586 members, is funded through subscriptions and public donations.