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Alcohol on an open wound: Transgender Indonesians struggle through pandemic

Raka Ibrahim

The Jakarta Post

PREMIUM
Jakarta  /  Wed, February 10, 2021  /  04:05 pm
Alcohol on an open wound: Transgender Indonesians struggle through pandemic

Volunteers from Sanggar Seroja delivering aid to trans women in dilapidated neighborhoods. (JP/Rikky Fajar)

“I will never forget what she said to me,” Amek Adlian said, mimicking a transgender woman he met in the streets of Medan, North Sumatra. “Abang, I’ve stared down bandits with machetes. COVID is no big deal!” Even a seasoned trans rights activist like him was taken aback by the flippant reply. “There was nothing I could do to help her,” the 32-year old sighed. “Staying home means starving. Staying safe means dying.” Amek forced a laugh, but his desperation was evident. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, trans people were already living with economic precarity, violence and discrimination. The pandemic, said a report by the Indonesian Transgender Network (JTID), simply “poured alcohol on an open wound”. “We actually face many similar problems as other working-class people,” explained Rebecca N...