YOGYAKARTA, KOMPAS.com -Like millions of their brethren in Indonesia and around the world, the Al-Fatah pesantren or Islamic religious school are preparing to mark the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in April 2021.
While this occasion is marked by the Covid-19 pandemic for the second year in a row, it does not hamper the students and teachers of the pesantren from their devout observation of fasting, prayers and alms as well as good works that are a part of Ramadan.
But the Al-Fatah pesantren's faculty and staff is distinct from other schools of their kind. Unlike the all-male or all-female faculty and student body of other pesantren, the teachers and students are transgenders.
And while these students would board in the school, the Al-Fatah's students are day students who meet on a weekly basis.
Located among the old buildings and narrow alleyways of Kotagede old village in Yogyakarta's Bantul regency, the pesantren is run in a makeshift manner from a green Javanese house owned by its headmistress Shinta Ratri.
Preparing for Ramadan
Here, the pesantren's trans students prepare for Ramadan like their peers. As devout Muslims, Al-Fatah's students believe that Ramadan marks the time of year when God revealed the first verses of the Quran to the Prophet Mohammed.
The trans students prepared for Ramadan traditions that are perhaps syncretic in nature. These include nyadran, or sending prayers to trans people who have passed away, as well as padusan, a bath to purify one's soul.