What does it mean to be a transgender and a muslim?
This is a complicated matter especially in a religion which has such a strict division between genders.
Generally speaking Islamic law forbids men to dress and adopt the mannerisms of women, and vice versa, but according to the Koran, muslims are not allowed to classify people based on economic, social, political, gender or theological values.
Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, with approximately 202.9 million identifying themselves as Muslim (87.2% of Indonesia’s total population and 13,1% of the World Muslim population)
Here transsexuals are known as waria, a term which is a combination of two Indonesian words:  “wanita,” which means woman, and “pria,” which means man.
The area of greater Yogyakarta, located on the island of Java, is home to approximately 3 million people and 300 waria, who usually live in isolated communities. They face a certain level of marginalization and discrimination, especially when they encounter pockets of Islamic radicalism. But surprisingly warias are also quite accepted in Indonesian society. You can find warias everywhere: in salons, on television, at weddings, on street corners.
Despite this situation they are prone to ridicule, violence, and poverty. Their job opportunities are generally limited to street performing, prostitution, working in beauty salons, or acting on television, playing caricatures of themselves.
Many warias have also no families and no legal identities. Some of them leave the island where they were born to go to Yogyakarta where the atmosphere is more tolerant and relaxed. Their families don’t know who they really are. They play waria at night and man during the day. Others can count on their own families and run a fairly normal life as women.
Even though  waria assume the identity of women, they usually retain their male reproductive organs, because operations are far too expensive. The few who can afford an operation have their breasts done, all the others face an horrible and unhealthy practice where the silicone is forced straight under the skin. Since many are prostitutes they also face HIV and sexual diseases.
Only some of them have stable relationships with a man.
Even though in Indonesia waria are quite tollerate, acceptance of transgender Muslims is still not widespread. For this reason Shinta Ratri a LGBT activist opened in her house a Pesantren Waria (Islamic boarding school for transgenders), the first and only one of its kind in Indonesia and possibly in the world. Although it is called a boarding school, the Pondok Pesantren Waria Al-Fatah functions more like a religious school where students can learn classical religious subjects like fiqh and Qur’an recitation, as well as a community centre where students gather to break the fast together during Ramadan.
This is her story.