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The AP has run an interview by Niniek Karmini of Barack Obama's former nanny in Jakarta and it is popping up everywhere…because his nanny was waria, the Indonesian term for transgender.  

Evie, whose name at the time was Turdi, was born male but believed she was a girl.  She grew up being often beaten by her father, who detested her for being a "sissy".  

He wanted me to act like a boy, even though I didn't feel it in my soul.

She was teased and bullied in school, so she stopped going after the third grade.  She decided to become a cook and by all accounts became very proficient at it, working for several high-ranking officials in her teens.  At a cocktail party in 1969 she met Ann Dunham, who was then wife of Indonesian Lolo Soetoro,  Barack's mother was so impressed by Evie's beef steak and friend rice, she offered her a job.  Evie eventually became the caretaker for both Barack and his sister, Maya, working in that position for two years.

She didn't dress as a woman in Barack's presence, but neighbors recall that Evie often would leave the house dressed as a woman.

He was so young.  And I never let him see me wearing women's clothes.  But he did see me trying on his mother's lipstick, sometimes.  That used to really crack him up.
When Barack's family left Jakarta in the early 70s, Evie's life deteriorated.  She first moved in with a boyfriend, but that relationship only lasted three years.
I tried to get a job as a maid, but no one would hire me.  I needed money to buy food, get a place to stay.
As happens in many cultures, including our own, the only option she found was to become a sex worker.

At the time, Suharto was still in power.  They often would round up warias, load them into trucks and take them to a field, where they would be beaten and abused.  On one occasion, soldiers shaved her long black hair to the scalp and used her hands and arms as ashtrays.

The threat of violence is still very real.  Indonesia's Commission on Human Rights receives about 1000 reports of abuse per year, ranging from murder and rape to denial of the right of assembly.

Muslim Cleric Ichwan Syam of the Indonesian Ulema Council has issued the following statement:

They must learn to accept their nature.  If they are not willing to cure themselves medically and religiously, they have to accept their fate to be ridiculed and harassed.
In 1985 Evie and her friends ran from the police to escape swinging batons and her friend Susi jumped into a garbage-filled canal.  After the police went away, they returned to look for Susi and found Susi's bloated body in the canal with her faced bashed in.
I knew in my heart I was a woman, but I didn't want to die like that.  So I decided to just accept it. ... I've been living like this, a man, ever since.
Many neighbors would remember Turdi ... she was popular here at that time.  She was a nice person and was always patient and caring in keeping young Barry.

--Rudy Yara, who still lives across the street from Obama's former house

Nowadays Evie, 66, seeks peace in her religion, attending the mosque to pray five times a day.  She says she is just waiting to die.
I don't have a future anymore.
When asked about Evie, the White House had no comment.

Evie does feel pride in Barack's election victory.

Now when people call me scum, I can just say: 'But I was the nanny for the President of the United States!'

Originally posted to TransAction on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 02:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Milk Men And Women.

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