In Jakarta, those who knew President Barack Obama when he lived there frequently find themselves the center of attention by press and their neighbors, but his transgendered nanny's been a missing voice so far, until the Associated Press tracked her down. The 66-year-old Evie, who was born a man but identifies as a woman, lives as an outcast in East Jakarta, immersing herself in her Muslim faith as she waits out her days, the news wire learned. Evie's kept a low profile ever since one of her friends died in a raid by Gen. Suharto's forces when she was working as a sex worker after Obama's family moved away. When she met Obama's mother Anne Dunham in 1969 and took a job cooking for the family and caring for young "Barry," things were different:
Neighbors recalled that they often saw Evie leave the house in the evening fully made up and dressed in drag. But she says it's doubtful Barry ever knew.
"He was so young," says Evie. "And I never let him see me wearing women's clothes. But he did see me trying on his mother's lipstick, sometimes. That used to really crack him up."
The story's worth a read not just for the new details about Obama's childhood life, but for the insight into Indonesia's complicated relationship with its transgendered population, dramatized last year in the film Tales of the Waria. There are about seven million living in the world's most populous Muslim country, where they face abuse from fundamentalists but also a level of social acceptance. "They hold the occasional pageant, work as singers or at salons and include well-known celebrity talk show host Dorce Gamalama," the AP notes.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.