Transgender nanny remembers Obama

2012-03-11 14:37

kalahari.com

  • Gender Equality
    Examines the persisting inequality between formal commitments to gender equality and equal... Now R330.00
    buy now

Jakarta - A transgender Indonesian man who shot to fame after it emerged he had worked as Barack Obama's nanny in the late 1960s wants nothing from "little Barry" but to meet him again some day.

TV crews and reporters have descended on the tiny concrete shack in an east Jakarta slum, where Turdi, 66, now makes a meagre living from hand-washing his neighbours' clothes.

"I am a big nobody, merely the help, so I expect nothing from Barry. But I certainly wish to see him again. Nothing more," he told AFP at his home, which sits by a foul-smelling sewage canal.

Turdi said he has fond memories of eight-year-old Obama, his American mother Ann Dunham and Indonesian stepfather Lolo Soetoro, who treated him "like family" during the two years he worked in their home in the upmarket Jakarta suburb of Menteng.

"It's impossible he will visit me here in my rented room. And to travel to America is something that can only happen in dreams. God willing and with patience, we will meet again," Turdi said.

No comment

The White House has not made any comment on the nanny's reminiscences, but some of Obama's old neighbours, who still live on the same street 40 years on, said they knew Turdi and accepted him as transgender.

But during his time caring for the young boy who would become the United States' first black president, Turdi tried not to let on that he was transgender, never wearing women's clothes around him.

"I felt very free when I dressed like a woman, as if I had been released from prison. But I always appeared manly in front of Barry. He was too young to know about our world," said Turdi.

Although Obama was popular, his friends would make fun of the nanny, calling him "banci", a derogatory Indonesian term for transgender people.

"When I'd fetch him from school, his friends would mock me and shout 'banci, banci' But he ignored them and would just say 'Come on, let's go home'," said Turdi, who asks his close friends to call him Evie.

Teasing

The students would also tease Obama over his solid build, and his hair and complexion, he said.

"His friends would call him names like 'Barry Negro' when they lost a football match, but he would just laugh. He always said 'You must be prepared to win or lose a game'."

Turdi said he was proud of Obama, the "ordinary black boy from a humble background who has become the American president".

And he said he believed the leader could help to eradicate "all discrimination in the world", including against transgender people like himself.

Turdi says he and his transgender friends have suffered repeated abuse, to the point where he decided it was safer to keep his appearance masculine.

Proud

Homosexuals and transgender people are largely shunned in Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country of 240 million people, and attacks against gay people by Islamic hardliners are common.

Fortunately, Turdi's slum community accepts transgenders, with around 50 living in the vicinity.

Despite his journey from Obama's old home to the slums, including a stint as a sex worker, Turdi seems at peace with how things have turned out.

He hopes to one day walk through Obama's old elementary school with the president, having missed him when he visited Jakarta in 2010 and 2011.

"I want to tell him that not only Americans but everyone in the world salutes him," he said.

"Once he pointed to a picture of (Indonesian) President Sukarno and said 'I hope I will grow up to become someone like him'. I am proud that his wish came true.

"And if the Barry I knew is the same Barry who is America's number-one man, I'm sure he will accept me for the person I am, transgender or not."

Read more on:    gender equality
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today is a good day to network and share your ideas and thoughts with your colleagues and friends. Information overload is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.