Tales of the Waria

Live your truth.

Reviewed by: Alicia Glass
Published on: March 14, 2022
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1754572/ (URL is not moviemoxie.net)
Available on: Your local library
Content release date: 2011-03-13

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Review Rating: 7

In Indonesia, the worlds’ most populous Muslim nation, are transgender men living as woman known as Waria, and these are some of their stories.

I had never heard of the Waria, but given the intro I read and the emphasis placed on the fact that it’s a Muslim-main country, I figured the Waria wouldn’t fare too well in the stories. Sadly I was right, but there really wasn’t a lot of emphasis placed on religious persecution. Rather, the Waria featured in the film are a lot more like the transgender and gay folk I know here in San Diego– they have lives, jobs, and loves and heartbreak just like the rest of us, no matter what package they’re sporting below the belt.

The film generally concentrates on four particular protagonists, all living more or less openly as Waria. There is a little bit about the official history of the Waria, stating that in the 17th century, they were servants to the King of South Sulawesi before Islam came to the nation. I would’ve been happy to elaborate on that particular point, but that’s just a personal interest. Our four protagonists, having chosen to go the way of Islam despite their personal feelings, that is to say to not undergo gender reassignment surgery since Muslims are forbidden, have plenty of other issues besides that. One is the longstanding lover of a policeman, who does her best not to upset his homelife with his wife, but at some point acknowledges that she’s actually tired of coming second. Another Waria is tempted to leave her known world behind with an affair with a Westerner, but takes the opportunity to try and figure out what she wants while working a stint inBali. Each protagonist seems to have no end to the parade of complicated interpersonal relationships, which are approached with grace and humanity, similar to our Drag Queens here in the West.

There was a Q&A after the film with director Kathy Huang, and of course the most populous question was something to the affect of, what happened to the Waria next, after the film? I would consider that a fine testament to the films’ ability to reach into the hearts of all, regardless of gender or preference.