When someone rises to a position of great power, there are often people from their past who come out of the woodwork looking for some favor or another—and that's no doubt happened many times to President Obama. However, there's one person from his past who hasn't ever asked for anything: The trangender Indonesian nanny who used to care for him when he was a child. Whaaa?
Meet Evie, Obama's former nanny, who was born a man but identifies as a woman. She has had a difficult time because life in Indonesia for trangender people can be very complicated. Many of them live openly, but they aren't exactly accepted. They often suffer great cruelties and violence. Evie says she's endured beatings, cigarette burnings, attacks by soldiers, and a life of poverty. She used to live openly as a woman, but twenty years go, after finding the body of a transgender friend who'd been murdered, she gave away all of her feminine clothing and makeup and now lives like a man out of fear.
Evie, who's given name is Turdi, was working as a cook at a party in 1969 when she met Ann Dunham, Barack Obama's mother. Dunham had moved to Indonesia two years earlier with Barack and her second husband, Lolo Soetoro. Dunham liked Evie's cooking, so she hired her to work in their home. She then took over caring for 8-year old Barry and his little sister Maya. Residents of the neighborhood where Obama grew up confirmed that Evie had worked for the family. One neighbor said,
Many neighbors would remember Turdi … she was popular here at that time. She was a nice person and was always patient and caring in keeping young Barry.
She would often leave Obama's house fully made up as a woman at night, but she doesn't think young Barry ever knew:
He was so young. 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.
Ahh, what a delightful thought that is! Unfortunately, after Obama's family left in the early 70s, Evie's life took a turn for the worse. She had difficulty getting work, and she ended up becoming a sex worker. Now 66, she lives in a tiny hovel in Jakarta and does people's laundry to pay for her food. Sadly, she says she is just waiting to die.
For a long time, she didn't know what had become of her former charge Barry, but then she saw a picture of the family on TV and in the local paper. She says she hopes Obama will use his newfound power to help people like her. One thing his success has already done for her is given her a reason to be proud—which hasn't happened in a long time. She said, heartbreakingly,
Now when people call me scum. I can just say: "But I was the nanny for the President of the United States!"
The White House had no comment about Evie when asked, though it's not at all clear whether the President even knows that she is out there somewhere. If he did, would he help her? Could she come make her famous beef steak and fried rice at the White House. The Republicans would have a field day with that—"Obama isn't just running a nanny state, he's running a transgender nanny state! The horror!" But on the other hand, think how close Evie would come to exploding from pride if she made it all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue from her hovel in Jakarta and how happy that would make those of us in this country who still have hearts.