Indonesian Islamic Women’s Group Help Transgender School

In line with its inclusive policy and moderate approach, the Yogyakarta branch of Fatayat Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the women’s wing of the Indonesian Islamic movement Nahdlatul Ulama (one of the largest Islamic movements in the world), has expressed willingness to provide female preachers to Al Fatah transgender Islamic boarding school. “We don’t have a different view of transgenders,” the branch’s chairwoman, Khotimatul Husna.
The group signed a memorandum of understanding on the plan with the boarding school’s head, ShintarRatri. Witnessing the signing were students of Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University’s School of Ushulludin, researchers and members of local transgender groups, including Yogyakarta Transgender Association (Iwayo) chair KusumaAyu.
Khotimatul said Fatayat NU Yogyakarta had a moderate view and aimed to make friends with anybody, including transgender people. The more friends it had, the more goodness it could generate for all mankind, she said. “We can learn together. This is a good start,” she said, adding that with Fatayat, the transgender community could learn about gender issues and get access to counselling services on violence against women and children. They could also avail of security aid from Garda Fatayat, which is a women- and child-friendly group that promotes peace and tolerance and condemns violence.
Separately, Shinta Ratri said Al-Fatah hosted a preaching programme every Sunday that included activities like social gatherings, Quran reading, Maghrib prayers and a preaching forum. The boarding school was established in 2006 and is a place for transgender people to learn more about religion, as well as participate in culture activities and transgender empowerment discussions, among other things. “We really hope that once a month a preacher from Fatayat NU will visit us and preach here,” said Shinta, who last year was a recipient of a Front Line Defenders Award from a human rights organization in Dublin, Ireland. Shinta also expressed hope that the preacher would also participate in discussions and social activities organized by the boarding school.
Forty-two transwomen currently attend the boarding school, located in Kotagede, Yogyakarta. The boarding school’s supervisor, Masthuriyah Sa’da, said the cooperation would run for a year and could be extended. A preacher from Fatayat NU, she said, would preach on the most basic of Islamic teachings. “The preacher for sure must be sensitive to gender issues and be nonjudgmental,” she said.
Runi, one of the boarding school’s transgender students, said everyone should be able to interact with the marginalized transgender community, which would open the way to mutual understanding. “If there is interaction, there will be no reason to hate one another,” she said.Al Falah is said to be the only Islamic boarding school in the world for transwomen.
(Extracted from the jakartapost.com)

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