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.

BY Cindy Clarissa

June 14 2012 5:28 AM ET

My days spent with Aulia have enriched me in ways that are intangible. He shared with me the many facets of his life, and with it, amplify my universe. I can see how much he loves his people, people with HIV and high-risk communities such as transgender people and sex workers. Embracing these marginalized groups is more than a job or a passion, it is personal. "I was once an outcast. Nobody accepts me. Now I want to embrace those who are rejected because I know how it feels,” he told me later. There is a certain fragility about him, a kind of brokenness, yet he is immensely strong. Stronger then he or anyone thinks he is.

Tags: Photography