“One fascinating aspect of the pesantren is that it went along without any harassment from hardline groups for years and we all wondered why extremist groups were shutting down churches and ‘gayish’ nightclubs and leaving the pesantren alone,” Esch said.If you're slapping your head over that last line, know that the linked article is in The Daily Beast, in a section — I'm not kidding — called "PROGRESS," and the headline includes the phrase "Indonesia is more progressive when it comes to gender fluidity than the West." There's some mind-crushing obtuseness about the terrible oppression of gay people here:
“God created his creatures and I want to live as I am,” Oki, one of the waria at the pesantran, told Esch on camera. “It is my fate. Sometimes I feel sad because I want to pray at the mosque, but people look and talk about me.... Others have told me that being waria is a sin. I told them that we do not know God’s gender. We do not know if God is a man or a woman or waria.... I pray as a man because I want to face my god as a man. And I learned as a child to pray as a man, with the male dress, the sarong, and when I die I want to be buried as a man, even though I am waria,” Oki said. “I will be asked by God what my original family name is.”
Because this belief is prevalent, many waria say they don’t want gender confirmation surgery....
Transgender people have been acknowledged throughout Islamic history, and the Prophet Muhammad’s wife is even said to have had a mukhannath (effeminate) servant who was only banished from the women’s quarters when the Prophet realized he was attracted to women. Even today in Iran, the Islamic government will pay for gender confirmation surgery for transgender people, making the country second only to Thailand in the number of such surgeries performed. (Homosexuality is punishable by death in Iran, and activists worry that some gay people may be forced into such surgeries to escape that grisly end.)