As a child, President Barack Obama once had a nanny in Jakarta who was a little different from other female caretakers: she was actually a he, who discovered at a young age that she was simply born the wrong gender.
Her name is Evie, now 66-years-old, according to The Associated Press, which published a lengthy profile of her on Monday morning.
She met Ann Dunham, the president’s mother, in 1969, when Barack was just 8-years-old. Evie was reportedly working with the kitchen staff at a local official’s cocktail party when the two struck up a conversation about her recipe for beef steak and fried rice, and soon Evie was working in Dunham’s home.
“[Barack] was so young,” Evie reportedly said. “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.”
It wasn’t immediately clear if Dunham knew that Evie was a trans person, but the AP report notes that she was seen leaving Dunham’s home many times dressed as a female. Then, about two years after Dunham and Barack left Indonesia, she became a sex worker after being repeatedly denied chances to become a maid.
One of an often hated minority in Indonesia, Evie said she gave up her cross dressing two decades ago after one of her trans friends was found dead in a sewage canal. She claims to have lived in fear ever since, surviving in a culture that reviles trans people.
“I don’t have a future anymore,” she reportedly said.
As president, Obama has made a point of standing up for LGBT rights, although he has not endorsed outright marriage equality. Obama did, however, make history in 2010 by hiring Amanda Simpson, the first openly trans person to ever receive a presidential appointment, as a technical adviser to the U.S. Commerce Dept.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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