Aceh regent issues circular banning transgender women from working in salons

Last week’s incident in Bekasi echoed another incident from January of this year, pictured above, in which several transwomen in North Aceh had their heads forcefully shaved by Sharia police officers. Photo: North Aceh Police
Last week’s incident in Bekasi echoed another incident from January of this year, pictured above, in which several transwomen in North Aceh had their heads forcefully shaved by Sharia police officers. Photo: North Aceh Police

As if forcing their idea of masculinity on transgendered women wasn’t humiliating enough, a regent in Aceh — the only semi-autonomous province in Indonesia allowed to enforce Islamic law — is now banning waria (a portmanteau of the Indonesian words for woman and man) from working in hair salons in what is just the latest form of discrimination against the marginalized group in the province.

Aceh Besar regency, which includes the province’s capital, Banda Aceh, is threatening sanctions against salons found to be employing waria, according to a government circular enforcing the ban.

Aceh Besar Regent Mawardi Ali said the ban is part of the regency’s overall crackdown on LGBT individuals and communities.

“The circular is true, and soon we will meet with all district heads to pull together data on salons in Aceh Besar,” Mawardi said, as quoted by Kumparan today.

“If we find that [a salon] employs waria, we will pull its permit.”

Mawardi said that he will enlist the Public Order Agency and the Wilayatul Hisbah — the province’s religious police — to enforce the ban.

The ban comes a week after 12 transgender women working at salons were rounded up in the neighboring North Aceh regency, where local and religious police shaved their heads, gave them male clothing, and made them chant “until their male voices came out.”

After the incident drew criticism nationally and abroad, the North Aceh Police chief defended forcing masculinity on the transwomen, claiming that if he didn’t, then Islamic groups would have “crushed them.”

It’s not the first time Aceh Besar has been in the news lately for attempting to impose religious beliefs. On Jan. 30, the local government ordered female Muslim flight attendants to wear the hijab while in the local airport or face punishment by the religious police.


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