What set this academy apart is that most of the worshipers here had been born as men.
Tucked away behind a large mosque on a side street in Yogyakarta, Al Fatah Pesantren is, according to its leader, the only Muslim academy or madrasa for transgender people in the world.
Shinta Ratri, the school’s 53-year-old director, founded it with other transgender women in 2008, two years after a major earthquake convulsed the city. “It was a time of suffering, and transgender people needed a way to pray,” she said. “We needed a place to worship together and learn about Islam.”