Mallay, Rully, Benjamin Hegarty, Sandeep Nanwani, Ignatius Praptoraharjo
This essay contains an introduction and a translation of an account provided in Indonesian by Rully Mallay, a transgender community leader and activist at the Kebaya Foundation, a shelter for people living with HIV in the province of Yogyakarta. It describes the impact of restrictions imposed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and mobilization in response to it by those who identify as “waria” between February and September 2020. Waria played a pivotal role in mobilizing a community response in that city, providing support not only to their own community but also to other marginal groups impacted in similar ways. Harsh lockdown measures imposed to respond to COVID-19 disproportionately affected waria, cutting off access to economic and community support. This was particularly acute for the many waria without state-issued identity cards. Nevertheless, Rully expresses her hope that through the skills and adaptability they have demonstrated in their response to the public health emergency, they might achieve recognition and acceptance from Indonesian society.