Obama’s Nanny In Indonesia Hopes For Transgender Equality

Back in 2010, Prez Obama appointed Amanda Simpson as a senior technical adviser in the Commerce Department. She became one of the first presidentially appointed transgender persons to work in the executive branch. And more recently, Obama has pushed to increase protection for transgender and LGBT people against discrimination, for example in federal housing programs. But will these actions make an impact more than 9000 miles away, in Indonesia? Evie, who was his nanny over 4 decades ago, is hoping so.

When he was 6 years old, Barack Obama moved from Hawaii to Indonesia with his mother and her new Indonesian husband, Lolo Soetoro. Soetoro was attending college in Hawaii, but Suharto, the new military leader of his home country, had obligated all Indonesian students studying abroad to return. And so they arrived in Jakarta. (His mom sounds pretty damn kick-a**, moving half-way across the world for love!)

And this was where Barack’s family came to know Evie, who used to go by the name Turdi. Evie was known for her amazing cooking skills, and one day in 1969, she was cooking fried rice and beef steak (yum!) for a cocktail party. There, she met Ann Dunham, Barack’s mother. Soon thereafter, Evie became Barack’s caretaker.

Evie says that at the time, she didn’t let Barack see her wearing women’s clothes because “[h]e was so young”. So she doesn’t think that he knew then about her identity as a transgender woman. “But he did see me trying on his mother’s lipstick, sometimes. That used to really crack him up.”

Now that AP has published an article about Evie, President Obama knows her story. I don’t know how this reporter found this story and what political motives existed behind it being published, but I suppose it’s just part of the let’s-inspect-every-aspect-of-Obama’s-life phenomenon. I just wish that the article hadn’t been written in this “oh look at how horribly these people are being treated in this country” kind of way. Come on, there’s so much that needs to be done in the US, too.

(Photo credit: AP) [h/t: Joz]

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About Mina

I'm a compilation of lots of identities: japanese/hong kongnese immigrant, APIA, (fierce) womyn of color and third culture kid (TCK). And when I grow up, I want to be just like Yuri Kochiyama #BlueScholars
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