While not necessarily a milestone for LGBTQ+ rights, Indonesia has legally accepted the sex change of a former athlete, which has nonetheless sparked a discussion for gender fluidity in the country.
Aprilia Manganang, 28, represented Indonesia's female volleyball team before he retired in 2020 and joined the army. The former volleyball pro was at the center of a gender controversy at the 2015 SEA Games when the Philippines appealed that the hulking athlete undergo a gender test. The appeal was rejected by the competition's committee, and Aprilia remained adamant that he was female.
But questions about Aprilia's gender identity did not end there, as it was revealed that he was born with a rare condition called hypospadias, in which the urethra opening is placed on the underside of the penis instead of the tip. The military has accommodated his wish for corrective surgery and to be legally recognized as male.
"This is a moment I've been waiting for. I am so happy. I am grateful to all of the doctors who have helped me," Aprilia said during a press conference yesterday, in which he announced that he has completed the first of several phases of his corrective surgery.
Army Chief of Staff General Andi Perkasa stressed that Aprilia is not trans, and said that the army urged the sergeant to undergo a procedure he and his family had not been able to afford.
The army also agreed to amend all of Aprilia's civil documents to legally recognize him as male.
Netizens have been largely supportive and sympathetic of Aprilia, especially considering that he has been misgendered throughout his life.
Man or woman or even neither, I'm still a big fan of Aprilia Manganang. Proud red and white beast on the volleyball court. https://t.co/RhczfcEm8Y – kusumandaru (@aan__) March 10, 2021
Didn't know TNI could be this supportive, look how happy Aprilia Manganang is?? This also made my day – pic.twitter.com/G0Vr0Cc88M – Listy – IG: @cloverhoneycenter (@listyeon) March 9, 2021
Aprilia enjoyed a glittering career as a female volleyball pro, having won four domestic titles and a bronze medal at the 2017 SEA Games.