Life as a Mermaid: Being Transgender in West Borneo

Cindy Clarissa finds surprising beauty in unexpected places in her travels as a photojournalist. This photo series and essay about Aulia in West Borneo is a perfect example.



Seeing a friend die of AIDS, Aulia turned into a fervent volunteer for HIV prevention.  Once his friend, weak because of the illness, needed to be taken to the hospital for help.  Not having a vehicle of his own, Aulia went from friend to friend to find someone willing to lend their motorbike until he found one. With the sick friend on his back, they went to the hospital, and there they were faced with procedural and financial challenges. He took on the responsibility of guaranteeing payment for his friend’s medication. Without money himself, Aulia then raised funds within the transgender community to help the friend. On his friend’s death, he too had to make the decision on informing the friend’s family. "There are moments when we need to make a decision to be a hero or a coward,” he said about the experience.

Tags: Photography