In the heart of Jakarta’s slums, a transgender community is using fashion as a powerful tool to bring attention to their lives and the environmental challenges faced in the densely populated and polluted city.
Striding down a makeshift catwalk, adorned in vibrant dresses crafted from plastic cutlery and bottles, these women, dubbed the “Trans Super Heroes” by Mama Atha, founder of the Sanggar Seroja dance studio, showcase their creativity. Some outfits, designed to capture the festive spirit, even mimic Christmas trees.
Mama Atha, who serves as the de facto leader of the transgender community in Duri, emphasises the initiative’s dual purpose: to address the environmental issues plaguing their surroundings and to challenge societal perceptions.
Despite the social unacceptability of homosexuality in predominantly Muslim Indonesia, the event highlights the community’s resilience and determination to express themselves.
The transgender models, predominantly buskers and makeup artists, utilise recycled materials to create their striking fashion pieces. Mama Atha believes that through their art, they can demonstrate the potential for positive change and creativity in even the most challenging environments.
While Indonesia grapples with evolving social attitudes, especially towards the LGBTQ+ community, Mama Atha’s initiative provides a platform for self-expression and environmental advocacy within this marginalised group.