President Obama’s Transgender Nanny

A heartbreaking photo essay on Evie, the transgender woman who looked after young Barack Obama, and the harsh realities of her shunned culture in Indonesia. Evie was hired by Ann Dunham, President Obama’s mother, to look after young Barry when they lived in Indonesia from 1967-1971. The lives of Evie and other transgender people in Jakarta are fraught with hardship.

1.
Dita Alangkara / AP

Evie, also known as Turdi, the former nanny of President Barack Obama, stands at the doorway of her room at a boarding house in a slum in Jakarta, Indonesia. Evie, who was born a man but believes she is really a woman, has endured a lifetime of taunts and beatings because of her identity. Nobody knows how many transgender people live in the sprawling archipelagic nation of 240 million, but activists estimate 7 million. Societal disdain runs deep - when transgender people act in TV comedies, they are invariably the brunt of the joke.

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Dita Alangkara / AP
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Dita Alangkara / AP

A younger Evie/Turdi, left, dressed as a woman with an unidentified friend in a pageant.

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Dita Alangkara / AP

A transgender woman who identifies herself as Adis applies makeup to her face before going door-to-door to dance for small change, at her boarding house in a Jakarta slum.

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Dita Alangkara / AP
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Dita Alangkara / AP

A transgender woman who identifies herself as Melda stands outside the room while Adis applies her makeup.

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Dita Alangkara / AP

A transgender woman who identifies herself as Meilan, center, stands with her friends in Jakarta.

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Dita Alangkara / AP

An Indonesian man waves a 2,000 rp. (20 cents) bill as a transgender woman who identifies herself as Yanti, center, dances as they go door-to-door to perform for small change at a roadside food stall.

9.
Dita Alangkara / AP

Meilan, Yanti, and Adis perform at a roadside shop.

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Dita Alangkara / AP
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Dita Alangkara / AP
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Dita Alangkara / AP
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Dita Alangkara / AP

Melda walks through an alley at a slum in Jakarta.

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Dita Alangkara / AP

Adis walks through an alley at a slum in Jakarta.

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