Indonesia’s first transgender boarding school reopens its doors

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An Islamic transgender boarding school has reopened in the city of Yogyakarta on the Indonesian island of Java.

The school was the first of its kind in Indonesia and first opened its doors in 2008 but closed when its founder died last month.

It has now moved to a house belonging to Shinta Ratri, an LGBT activist.

“I hope the school can give students self confidence. Being transgender is not a sin. It is allowed in Islam as far as it’s genuine, not fake,” she said, reports The Jakarta Post.

The students at the school learn Islamic studies, and have a chance to work and earn money.

“According to the Koran, we are not allowed to classify people based on economic, social, political, gender or theological values,” Abdul Muhaimin, a leader of Indonesia’s Brotherhood Forum of the Faithful, an organisation that encourages religious tolerance, said at the opening ceremony. “I hope the students here are strong as they must face stigma in society.”

Same-sex sexual activity is legal across Indonesia, except for Muslims in Aceh province.

Transgender Indonesians face key challenges.

The law does not provide gender confirmation treatment or allow transgender Indonesians the opportunity to gain appropriate legal documents after they have transitioned.

The constitution also does not explicitly address sexual orientation or gender identity.

Spread across a chain of thousands of islands between Asia and Australia, Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population.

Research published this month by the Pew Centre shows 93% of Indonesians say homosexuality should be rejected.