The TRANSformer: An Interview with Alexa Dominich
Every Indonesian are familiar with the country's slogan: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, which means: Unity in Diversity. So by default, living in diversity shouldn't be a problem to Indonesians, everywhere. Since we are accustomed to diversity and differences. But what kind of difference is acceptable? And what kind of diverse is considered freaky? Many marginalized groups, a minority who is different from the majority, are still living with great fear of discrimination, one of these minority groups includes: transgender women.
We, at Freakmagz, believe that we urgently need to know more about the Indonesian transgender community, to eventually understand the vast array of gender identity. We talked with Alexa Dominich, one of the most prominent young trans woman activists in Indonesia. With her, we talked about her dream of inclusive society in Indonesia and how trans women could contribute greatly on.
1. How did you get in to trans-rights activism?
The first time I got in touch with trans-activism was when I attended the Trans-School and participated in the transgender beauty pageant, Miss Waria Remaja in 2011. The activities in the Trans-School have become my source of motivation to advocate the rights of transgender women. After winning the pageant, people started to know about me and I was starting to feel an interest to learn on how to network to other organizations on the issues of LGBT rights and HIV & AIDS. Several organizations that I had acquaintances with were: Aliansi Remaja Independen, GWL-INA, and Arus Pelangi. Over the time, I have strengthened my capacity and started to engage in regional activites with the Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN), Youth Voices Count (YVC). I also at the international level with Frida Young Feminist and AWID (The Association for Women’s Rights in Development).
2. What do you think the challenge within and outside the transgender community that is very challenging for you?
The biggest challenge in the internal transgender community is the senior system that has very much affected the process of social development for transgender women. Another is the commitments from some transgender individuals, who have the capacities but do not really contribute significantly for the transgender community. Whereas, external challenges are limited access and opportunities to be given to develop and strengthened the skills of transgender community, because we are still under-prioritized. Other external challenge includes the very urgent situation for the LGBT community in Indonesia, that is getting more and more cornered with the attempt of criminalization by those who enforces homophobia and transphobia to the society.
3. As a trans-rights activist, what is your biggest challenge in your work?
My biggest challenge is to ensure transgender individuals who are already skilled to work collaboratively and cooperatively with other like-minded folks, most importantly with other skilled activists, in the endeavor to advocate transgender rights. And, the need to ensure the national network to be able to accommodate the needs of the transgender community within their planned programme.
4. So far from your experience, what makes you feel hopeful for transgender people in Indonesia?
What makes me hopeful is the fact that there is a growing number of younger transgender individuals who have the potential and commitment to work together in advocating the rights of transgender women.
5. For your work, what’s your priority in order to achieve full equality for transgender people in Indonesia?
My priority is to strengthen the regeneration of transgender activist, and to also strengthen trans organizations in the provincial level. To get them to be stronger and empowered to accommodate the needs of transgender community.
6. Who do you think is the best ally in the work for the rights of transgender ?
In my opinion, the best allies for transgender community are organizations that work on LGBT issues, HIV issues, women’s issues, and other marginalized community. Organization such as Legal Aid Organization, National Commission on Violence against Women, and National AIDS Commission, are also strong squads to have too.
7. In regards of the status of transgender people in the eyes of the government, what is the current situation for transgender people and what do you think about it?
Most of our government officials still think that the transgender community are a pack of negative people. Therefore, it is urgent for transgender individuals who already have the capacity to take a role on strategic positions for decision making processes and start advocating awareness and build partnership cooperation with the government.
8. In your opinion, what is the ideal world for transgender people in Indonesia would look like?
The ideal world for transgender community: is a world where there’s no stigma and discrimination towards the transgender community, and the community can have full equality to access their rights as citizens of this country.
9. What is your greatest achievements so far that you think not only meaningful for you but for transgender community in Indonesia?
My greatest achievement would be when I was chosen as the member of Key Population representative and appointed as the Head of Technical Working Group for HIV in Indonesia.