In Indonesia, a country that remains socially conservative and widely homophobic, the LGBT community has secretly organized a Miss Transgender national beauty pageant.
As the world’s largest Muslim population, Indonesia has steadily grown more hostile towards the LGBT community. While homosexuality isn’t illegal, the Indonesia Psychiatric Association (PDSKJI) still classifies it as an illness, and there has been a recent wave of discriminatory action. There has been a recent crackdown on ‘gay propaganda’, and a gay couple was arrested last month for posting a Facebook picture of them kissing.
In response, gay activists organized the Miss Transgender pageant in secret, for fear that it would invite violence and attempts to shut it down. Only a few journalists were notified and allowed to attend, and organizers asked participants not to share the event on social media. However, all went well, and on Friday night in Jakarta, 28-year-old Qienabh Tappii was crowned the winner. She will represent Indonesia next year, at an international pageant in Thailand.
“Tonight is the beginning of my struggle for my rights as a waria (Indonesian term for transgender),” Tappii said after her crowning. “I want waria to be accepted, appreciated and understood in our society, and to be equal with other Indonesians. I will work really hard to achieve it.”