Indonesian transgenders wear plastic waste dresses to raise climate awareness


 

Agustina, 41, a trans woman poses before a Trans Super Heroes fashion show at a traditional market in Jakarta, Indonesia, December 17, 2023. —Reuters
Agustina, 41, a trans woman poses before a Trans Super Heroes fashion show at a traditional market in Jakarta, Indonesia, December 17, 2023. —Reuters

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.

Trans women wearing recycled material dresses to bring awareness to LGBT rights and environmental protection stand before a Trans Super Heroes fashion show at a traditional market in Jakarta, Indonesia, December 17, 2023. —Reuters
Trans women wearing recycled material dresses to bring awareness to LGBT rights and environmental protection stand before a Trans Super Heroes fashion show at a traditional market in Jakarta, Indonesia, December 17, 2023. —Reuters

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.

Nuke Herawati, 43, a trans woman presents a recycled material dress to bring awareness to LGBT rights and environmental protection during a Trans Super Heroes fashion show at a traditional market in Jakarta, Indonesia, December 17, 2023.—Reuters
Nuke Herawati, 43, a trans woman presents a recycled material dress to bring awareness to LGBT rights and environmental protection during a Trans Super Heroes fashion show at a traditional market in Jakarta, Indonesia, December 17, 2023.—Reuters

Despite the social unacceptability of homosexuality in predominantly Muslim Indonesia, the event highlights the community’s resilience and determination to express themselves.

Nuke Herawati, 43, a trans woman who wears a recycled material dress to bring awareness to LGBT rights and environmental protection, looks in the mirror before a Trans Super Heroes fashion show at a traditional market in Jakarta, Indonesia, December 17, 2023. —Reuters
Nuke Herawati, 43, a trans woman who wears a recycled material dress to bring awareness to LGBT rights and environmental protection, looks in the mirror before a Trans Super Heroes fashion show at a traditional market in Jakarta, Indonesia, December 17, 2023. —Reuters

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.

cha, 43, a trans woman presents a recycled material to bring awareness to LGBT rights and environmental protection during a Trans Super Heroes fashion show at a traditional market in Jakarta, Indonesia, December 17, 2023. —Reuters
cha, 43, a trans woman presents a recycled material to bring awareness to LGBT rights and environmental protection during a Trans Super Heroes fashion show at a traditional market in Jakarta, Indonesia, December 17, 2023. —Reuters

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.



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