Salon Waria

Apr 10th, 2007, in News, by

Transvestites in Aceh who work in hairdressing salons risk losing their jobs.

Waria, men who act and dress as women, often work in hairdressing salons, including in the city of Banda Aceh, where recently a new local law has been promulgated which forbids men from cutting the hair of women, and vice versa. This causes a problem for the waria because on their identity cards they are listed as men, while they feel that they are women.

“Susi”, a transvestite who works in a salon in the Peunayong district of Banda Aceh, says most of her/his customers are women and the new law puts her/his livelihood at risk.

Miss Waria Indonesia 2005
Miss Waria Indonesia 2005 contestants, who may or may not work in salons.

The city government of Banda Aceh, Aceh, where Islamic sharia law is gradually becoming the law of the land, has already begun putting signs on salons that say:

This salon is for women only, men who are not related [to any of the women inside] must not enter.

Susi worries about her future:

How will we eat, are the officials going to feed us?

Susi says in the salon where she works all the staff are waria, only the cashier is a “real” woman.

Head of the sharia office in the city, M. Natsir Ilyas, admits there is a problem and says the matter is currently being mulled over. gatra

6 Comments on “Salon Waria”

  1. Marie Antoinette says:

    I am sure the good people of Aceh will go right back to the current arrangement, for without waria, there will be a lack of Sharia-certified gender-certified hairstylists.
    In any case, these people have a right to be recognized as women, with or without an operation or ID card. Can Indonesia Matters please respect that right by referring to them as “she” and “her”, instead of the slightly confused-sounding “her/his” in this post.

  2. Aluang anak Bayang says:

    Mas Hassan, I would like to know your stance on this issue. Under shariah, would they be allowed to continue on with their occupation or do we have to string them up?

  3. Suhada says:

    Assalamualaikum. Traditionally we believe that God created man and woman. Transvestites wasn’t included. That explains why we oftentimes disregard or even despise them.

    Furthermore most of the religions are nurtured within the realm of paternalistic psyche. That even put the transvestites in a more critical situation. They become the object of disgust, hatred, fear and even violence. To be harassed has become their daily basis.

    Nowadays we have to criticize this matter wisely. I am a student of a Medical School in UNAIR. I remember, once, my lecturer — Dr. Onny Pietersono, a genetic expert and an andrologist — gave a lecture about the connection between genetic feature with one’s sexual identity. It is said that according to the latest research certain genetic defect can cause sexual identity disorientation. One can be physically male but hormonally and psychologically tend to be feminine due to the genetic defect, vice versa.

    Female chromosome is XX and the male is XY. But in some severe cases we can find XYY chromosome that makes the person became super agressive, hyper-virile. We call such case as super male. In the other hand we can find a person with XXY chromosomes. It makes the person a feminine male or masculine female. Gynaecomasty or rudimentary penile is common to be found. In some milder cases particular genetic defect can repress the testosterone within a man and risen the activity of his estrogen. That causing the person to become more feminine. both physically and psychologically.

    Thus we must reevaluate the traditional point of view which often times consider that transvestites is a matter of sexual identity choice. We think that those transvestites can be a real man if they want it to be. And we give them religious sermons. Hopefully they will repent and leave their sinful way of life. We indoctrinate them that in front of Allah they are man. Then they should become a real man in every sense.

    But the problem is that it is not just the matter of choice. Their case is not just ethical case. We have to go beyond that traditional point of view. We have to leave our simplified paradigm.
    The matter is complex in it’s manner. It takes deeper thoughts and wiser considerations.
    First of all we have to let aside our paternalistic point of view. Let us respect the gender equality. Be it man or woman, we are equal. Second to none in the presence of Allah. Then we will re-read and recomprehend our faith and our cultural value and norm based on that perspective. The egalitarian perspective.

    Then we should respect the transvestites. We have to respect their choice. We have to be able to be empathetic to their condition. We have to understand their difficulties. Let them choose to be a man or a woman. It is theirs not us to determine what is best for them.

    At last, God is Great. His compassion knows no limit. His love pour evenly to every soul. Be it a man or a women. Or even transvestites. We are equal in the presence of The Almighty. Wassalam.

  4. steve garner says:

    It is a shame that some people can only look at the outer appearence and not at who the person is inside. If you believe in any God we were all created by him. We are all different in some way and it is about time we started to recognize and accept our differences. We only serve to isolate and allienate each other when we let anything, even religion come between us. All religions teach us about loving each other, why can’t we learn this and come together as human beings.

  5. dina says:

    according to the prophet muhammad himself mukhannath are not to be harmed

  6. Genius says:

    I would like to congratulate Shuda for his/her article above about the transvestites, it is very scientific and accurate.

    First of all, I am a Muslim alhamdulillah and try to be a good Muslim on the right path. A true Muslim will not be a violent person and will follow the conjunction of the Allah (s.w.t) and his Prophet Muhammad’s (s.a.w) hadith or sayings.

    Transgender issue is very complicated and we cannot just simplify blaming them for sexual intercourse. Before blaming, we have to acquire knowledge of the reasons why they exist and emerge and what are the reasons of transgender. Muslims are encouraged to acquire knowledge from birth to death.

    If we are talking about Shariah Laws, why we have to think about punishing rather than teaching and making da’wah? Why do not we think about thousands of problems in Aceh rather than this minor issues? Are we afraid of the transvestites to be spread around and spoil our families and children? Then, we have to go to find a decent job for them and make an approach why they feel like that and try to assist them so that they will not tend to sell their bodies or having sexual relations with the men. This will also spoil the targeted men and their families, as well. Even to the extend of divorce. We can see the results in Malaysia, it is a good example for this.

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