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Trans Women Remain Political Commodity for Elections

Trans Women Remain Political Commodity for Elections

Vulnerable groups are often targeted by political campaign teams in the run-up to elections. The team of campaigners and supporters think they can easily gain votes by making use of the vulnerable groups to help their candidates win. They merely take the benefit from the groups to attract voters. But once they get elected, they vanish along with their empty promises.

In a report titled "Examining Transwomen's Activities and their Neglected Rights behind the Success of Politicians", Silvy Chipy (Fajar Sikka Community - Member of JW Pena Inklusi) describes that groups of transgender women are often manipulated by political actors for their personal interests.

Trans women are often used as political commodities by politicians. In other words, they are seen as easy targets to gain as much support and votes as possible. Politicians are very clever in using the advantages of trans women, who are arguably more agile and dexterous in building relationships and actions with the wider community. Politicians also use the networks of trans women in the fields of beauty, cooking, singing and other stage performances.

The services of these trans women are used in various competitions, ranging from fashion shows, beauty contests or pageants to sporting events such as volleyball matches. This is the first strategy of politicians to win hearts and build relationships with trans women, combined with political promises, such as providing social support and fulfilling the basic rights of trans women.

The second strategy implemented by politicians is to use the services of trans women in the field of beauty. Politicians will ask transwomen to dress up and beautify the appearance of female politicians or male politicians' companions. In a more elegant way, they approach trans women and ask them to help campaigning for their main figures or candidates to every client that the trans women serve in their beauty salon. The end of the political strategy targeting trans women in this field is to give them salon equipment.

The third strategy is to exploit trans women who have advantages in the field of singing. During the election campaign, trans women are invited to go to different areas where the campaign activities are taking place and are asked to sing in order to attract public attention.

The fourth strategy is to use trans women who have expertise in cooking. Trans women in this field are also a good target for politicians. The trans women are asked to prepare and serve food and drinks for the public attending the campaign activities.

As tasty as the cooking spices, the politicians lure them with promises to donate kitchen equipment, support the development of the trans women's cooking business, even promises to help them set up eating places. (

Once the candidates get the most votes, they will leave the vulnerable groups behind. It will be very difficult to meet the elected politicians. Iqbal, a teacher from the Banda Aceh School for the Special Needs (SLB), shared his experience on this issue.

Iqbal said that many members of the legislature, once elected, will be difficult to find or contact. In fact, when they sought support from the community, they promised to convey the aspirations of the citizens. "During the nomination and campaign period, we frequently exchanged messages on WhatsApp, they invited us for coffee. But once they were elected, they suddenly acted as if we did not know each other," he said.

Riswati, executive director of Flower Aceh, who presented materials on inclusive elections, revealed that there should be no discrimination such as differences in race, color, gender, religion, political choices, marginalized groups, physical limitations, and minority groups. All diversity should not hinder their right to be elected or to vote. These things must be understood by every individual so that there will be no discrimination against certain party.

Therefore, leaders in this country should not turn a blind eye to vulnerable groups and should never make trans women a mere political commodity. Instead, these groups should be given the right to actively participate in political, economic, social and cultural affairs


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