Situated on the outskirts of Kota Yogyakarta, nearing the ring road in Banguntapan, Bantul, many Transpuan and gender diverse peoples gather at Pondok Pesantren Waria Al-fatah, to learn and exchange knowledge. As one of the only the Islamic boarding schools in the world reserved for the Transpuan community, Pondok Pesantren Waria Al-fatah is renowned for its inclusive education where anyone is welcome regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, and other intersecting identities. 

An unfortunate combination of Indonesia’s conservative social and political climate, the 2006 Yogyakarta earthquakes, the eruption of Mount Merapi in 2010, and raids from the FJI (Islamic Jihad Front) in 2016, led to the closure of previous Transpuan community-led Madrasa’s; However, the Transpuan community continues to resist, survive and fight to pursue their right to worship through Pondok Pesantren Waria Al-fatah.

Trusted chairperson of IWAYO (Yogyakarta Waria Association) and a remarkably approachable person, Shinta Ratri founded Pondok Pesantren Waria Al-fatah in 2008 with the school now positively impacting the lives of over 40 students. The school predominantly focuses on Islamic education for the Muslim community on Saturdays, with a goal of students improving their ability to read the Qur’an and understand Human Rights values. Moreover, Pondok Pesantren Waria Al-fatah also caters to Christian education now for 20 non-Muslim students on Sundays and provides community education in the hopes of fostering better treatment for Transpuan in Java. The school is open for anyone as a safe space, but particularly those from marginalised communities who don’t have the same access to religious education as broader cis-gendered and heteronormative accepted identities in Indonesian society. 

The school’s social, political activism and advocacy goes beyond education and intersects with divisions of religion, business, psychology, legal aid, security, and health. To improve and assist the livelihoods of marginalised groups, in particular Transpuan, Pondok Pesantren Waria Al-fatah creates annual objectives and projects to propel individual and community self-determination. Regularly working with other local organisations to foster social inclusion and change, last year Pondok Pesantren Waria Al-fatah worked alongside PKBI to improve the lives of elderly Transpuan through community building and Covid-19 prevention, security, and vaccine awareness programs. Next year the focus will shift again to empowering and upskilling Trans youth to self-recognise and live to the best of their potential. 

While the economic effects of the pandemic continue impact and devastate marginalised communities in Indonesia, this year Pondok Pesantren Waria Al-fatah has focused on (re)building the creative economy by advocating for and promoting Trans-led local businesses. 

With more than 20 Trans-led businesses recovering from the impacts of covid and thus impacting individual and community mental, physical and emotional health; PKBI has a duty to support in the advocacy for the rights of these entrepreneurs. Currently, as a widely trusted and respected multi-dimensional health service, PKBI plays a large role in advancing Pondok Pesantren Waria Al-fatah’s current goal by assisting in the strengthening of relationships with local governments, facilitating meetings, providing vital health services and social media advocacy.

The businesses can be found at @umkm.sejahteramandiri

Furthermore, Pondok Pesantren Waria-Al-fatah’s social and political ethos is crucial to the health and safety of marginalised communities in Yogyakarta and directly aligns with PKBI’s vision and missions through all-encompassing and inclusive health rights.