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‘habis jatuh tertimpa tangga’: Climate change, Covid-19 and Being Transgender in Indonesia

Thursday 31 March 2022, 9:15 - 10:45

This multi-media roundtable event foregrounds the voices and experiences of transgender communities living in Indonesia. It explores how climate change, environmental injustice and the COVID-19 pandemic intersect with deep-seated inequalities rooted in a lack of understanding about gender and sexual diversity. It focuses on the everyday lives and livelihoods of transgender women and men, as told from their own perspectives.

Our roundtable invites four transgender and queer activists who are working in partnership with the GENERATE project to reflect on their experiences of being transgender and queer in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, and how they build resistance and resilience within their society. Together we call for intersectional, inclusive and decolonial approaches to trans-visibility. In both imagining and building more inclusive, just and climate-resilient urban futures we must challenge heteronormative male-female binaries, the marginalisation of Global South actors in climate change knowledge production, and better understand the intersectional pre-existing inequalities that shape vulnerabilities within a rapidly changing climate.

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Madam Seroja & Mama Pandan from Sanggar Seroja

Madam Seroja and Mama Pandan are transwomen who founded Sanggar Seroja, a collective of art lovers, most of whose members are transwomen. Sanggar Seroja is based in Kampung Duri, the most densely populated slum area in Jakarta, the current Indonesian capital, known as the home to a number of transwomen’s groups. Both Madam Seroja and Mama Pandan have more than 20 years of experience in the arts, dance, monologue, lenong, and theatre.

In this event, Madam Seroja will talk about transwomen’s experiences of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, while Mama Pandan will talk about Sanggar Seroja’s current collaborative project with the GENERATE project, in which Sanggar Seroja are creating four trans- climate superhero characters, to be launched during a carnival in May 2022 in the Kampung Duri. This project aims to co-produce creative ways to raise awareness regarding environmental issues, gender justice, and the rights of minority groups.

Yulia Dwi Andriyanti & Dhalang Zhiwa

Yulia is a queer Muslim woman, writer, community organizer and independent researcher. Her experiences of activism in Indonesia for the past twelve years includes women rights, LBTIQ rights, and education for diverse youth on faith and sexuality. She co-founded several organizations or collectives, such as Youth Interfaith Forum on Sexuality (YIFoS), a youth organization aims to build peace within diverse faith and sexual identity, in 2010 and Qbukatabu, an Indonesian feminist-queer collective, in 2017. She was also one of co-directors of a collective queer women documentary, Children of Srikandi (2012) and one of the co-authors of an anthology of queer of feminist organisers, Cerita Sehari-Hari Diri dan Semua yang Mengitari (2021). She completed her MA in Gender, Sexuality and the Body from University of Leeds. In regional context, she is one of the advisory network pools of Urgent Action Fund for the Asia and Pacific and a part-time Coordinator of Peace Brigades International Southeast Asia Project Exploration.  Since late 2020, she has started to use digital storytelling to document the lived experiences of herself as queer person and continued to work with other LBTIQ individuals and groups. She is a self-care practitioner through journaling, moving meditation, and experiencing a vegan life.

Dhalang Zhiwa is a transman and coordinator of LBTQ Community Pelangi Kota Karang (LANTANG). Dhalang will talk about transgender experiences during the tropical cyclone in 2021 known as Seroja. Since the Seroja disaster Lantang Community have been active in various activities to raise awareness regarding disasters from identifying preparations needed in response to disasters, and raising emergency funds to provide counselling to help those who experience trauma from the disaster. Yulia and Dhalang will share stories of how the LGBTQI+ communities’ access to information regarding the disaster and recovery process as well as their own awareness regarding these weather anomalies and cyclones before the disaster occurred.

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The event is organised by UKRI-funded GENERATE (Gender, Generation and Climate Change) in the School of Geography. It is sponsored by the School of Geography’s LGBTQ+ Students’ Forum.

The GENERATE project is led by Dr Katie McQuaid, with Dr Desy Ayu Pirmasari and Dr Neil Crawford.