Cephas Photo Forum Presentation: Trans Islam by Karolus Naga

“Though people will find this place silly and nonsense, but learning the wisdom of Allah is every Moslem’s right, including transvestites!” said Maryani, 48 years old transvestites who’s also the founder of the Koran School for the transvestites and transsexual named ‘Pesantren Senen – Kamis’ in Notoyudan, Jogjakarta – Indonesia.

Today the ‘Senen Kamis’ Koran School has more than a hundred members from transsexual community, and some of them come from nearby city like Semarang, Jakarta and Surabaya and their goal is to learn the Koran and its wisdom. Though the boarding house’s operates twice a week, as its name ‘Monday – Thursday’, but every afternoon this place became a gather-ground for its members. Learn the Koran, cant in Arabic rhyme or just resting their legs after walking around of being street musician.

Lots of these transvestites earn money by becoming street musician, collecting pennies after pennies for the whole day from the people along the way. Some with the make-up skills would become make-up artists on several night clubs and some even own their own small beauty salon. While most of them working as prostitute in the late of nights, with the HIV pepping on the corner of the street and the fear of being harassed by the society and several religion organizations.


Karolus Naga is a freelance photographer from Ende, Flores who now resides in Yogyakarta. In 2009 he participated in Angkor Photography Workshop.

Three pictures from this “Trans Islam” series had been exhibited at Grand Indonesia Hotel, as part of Binus International Photo Competition 2010, “Life in Contrast”. The story is about daily life of a Koranic School for transvestites in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.


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