This article originally appeared on VICE Indonesia.
People are increasingly relying on each other to make it through these tough times. Acts of kindness have made headlines, especially during Ramadan, which Indonesians have been celebrating in isolation. One Indonesian YouTuber, it seems, has not taken this sense of community to heart.
Ferdian Paleka, a YouTuber from Bandung, Indonesia, is now facing widespread backlash after uploading a transphobic video. Posted on May 2, Paleka and two friends are seen distributing fake aid packages to four transgender women.
In the video, Paleka shows viewers that the instant noodle boxes he was giving away actually contain bricks and garbage.
“We will distribute groceries containing bricks and garbage. If there are any bencong (trans women), we’ll give them the boxes, but if they’re not around, that means this city is safe from waria (trans women),” Paleka says in the video.
Netizens came together to rally for trans rights immediately after the video was uploaded, with activists and ordinary netizens mass-reporting his video and calling out Paleka for blatant transphobia. The video was posted just about a month after men burned a 42-year-old trans woman alive in Jakarta.
“[Paleka] uploaded this video in the interest of fame by degrading fellow humans!” LGBTQ activist Lini Zurlia wrote on Twitter. Just 15 hours after posting, the video acquired over 27,000 dislikes YouTube promptly removed it on May 4.
Paleka then added insult to injury by posting a fake apology video on his Instagram story. “I’d like to apologise for what I’ve done…not,” Paleka said.
On the evening of May 3, police and angered neighbours gathered in front of Paleka’s house to confront him, but he was not home.
The four trans women in the video, Sani, 40; Dini, 50; Luna, 25; and Pipiw, 30, filed a report with local police on May 4, accompanied by dozens of members of Srikandi Pasundan, a trans group in Bandung.
Bandung police confirmed the report and spoke with the four women, reassuring them that they were building a case against the YouTuber and are taking the situation seriously.
“We thought they were giving us noodles, but they think we’re trash. That was a painful experience. I’ve only been leaving home during the partial lockdown so that I can eat the next day. I’m aware that we’re practicing social distancing, but if I don’t go out there to make money, who will give me food? I was hopeful, but instead I was insulted,” one of the women told local media.
Indonesia’s trans community is one of the nation’s hardest-hit in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. BBC Indonesia reported that most Indonesian trans women work in the informal sector as salon workers, buskers, and sex workers, and have lost up to 70 percent of their income due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Many of Indonesia’s trans citizens also struggle with the drawbacks of not having a form of identification, including not being able to vote, no access to free healthcare services, and the lack of work in the formal sector. This is because many trans women are kicked out by their families or run away from home without the necessary documents.
Luckily, netizens put their rage to good use, setting up fundraisers and opening food banks for vulnerable trans communities across Indonesia.