I am a young transman raised in a Javanese Muslim family living in Jakarta. This identity gives me a majority privilege in Indonesia. Since I was 4, I always wanted to be called “Mas”, a Javanese male pronoun. But, my parents saw me as a weird little girl. I knew that deep inside they wanted to see their child happy. But, they have to follow the norms and culture. These constructed values felt like a cage for me. Because talking about gender and sexuality to a kid is considered a huge taboo in our country.
My parents thought that I was growing up a tomboy. I had to wear a skirt at school and grow my hair long. Those things made me tired! Because I had to put a mask and pretend to be someone else just to fit into what’s considered normal. I’m so lucky that my parents gave me a little space to express myself. And then martial arts. My dad allowed me to join Karate and Silat since I was 11. This was not only for self-defence but also to show my masculinity.
I cut my hair when I was 16. It shocked my parents. They expected a feminine girl who could bring honour for a Javanese family. But, I am a man inside. It took 3 years for me to explore my gender and sexuality.
“Mom, Dad, I am not a girl. I have never been a girl. I don’t know what I am. A Girl? A Boy? A Transvestite? Or a ghost? I can’t marry a guy. Please don’t push me to do so.”
My mom cried.
My dad didn’t say anything.
Yupe, I came out at 19 as “not a girl”. My exploring process continued, so did my family’s. Two years later, I found out that I am a transgender man. I knew it was hard for them to face that fact. They tried every single way to “cure” me. They would give me anything as long as I can be feminine. But, all those things couldn’t buy me.
They realized that this is who I really am. I graduated at 22 wearing a suit for the graduation ceremony. My family came in blue-themed dresses and suits, my favourite colour. Since that time, my parents have been very supportive of me. They are concerned about my safety and security because people like me face a lot stigma, discrimination and violence in Indonesia.
I started my medical transition at 23. My mom supports my transition by providing me with healthy food and taking me to a dermatologist because I had an acne problem when I started my hormone therapy. My dad passed away a year ago. I know that he wanted a son who can make him proud. So, I decided to use his family name for me, to keep him alive inside me.
Now, I am living with my mom, grandma, and my younger brother. We’re transitioning together. Because they see that this transition turns me into a better person; a happier and healthier me. Although they’re not ready to be visible with me, they support my visibility to show that trans people can do everything like other people. As a Muslim, my parents believe that living as a transman is my destiny. And this shows that God can create a diverse and colourful universe.
Author: Abhipraya A. Muchtar – Indonesia (Secretary, Youth Voices Count)