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Wariazone explores the notion of transgender in Indonesia and relations between gender identity and freedom. It raises questions about the politicization of morality and religion after the reform era. The male-to-female transsexuals who are known by the artificial word ‘waria’ (wanita, woman + pria, man) are a well-known phenomenon in the cultural mosaic of the country with the world’s largest Moslem community. The warias are often described in the local context as a combination of masculinity and femininity, a third sex, or a woman’s soul born in the body of a man.
Traditionally, variations in gender identity have been considered to be holy in many Indonesian cultures, but today the warias have been relegated to an outlaw zone on the outskirts of society. The consequences of the stigmatization based on the rigidity of social constructions (morals, religions, hetero-normativity, etc.) include non-recognition of their gender identity, discrimination, limited work opportunities, the sex industry, and HIV/AIDS.
Wariazone not only situates itself within the context of gender and sexuality, but also points out how the expression of gender identity is ruled by ideology: the ‘truth’ is related to the power.
Among many activists (Yulianus Rettoblaut, Merlyn Sopjan, Lenny Sugiharto, Ienez Angela, Shinta Ratri, to name a few) and sex workers, Dédé Oetomo (a leading activist for LGBT rights), Julia Suryakusuma (Indonesia's own feminist fatale) and Didik Nini Thowok (legendary cross-dressing performance artist) also appear in the film. Visits are made to several waria gathering places in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Malang and Surabaya, and to the world's only Koranic school for transgendered people.
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