Back to Ladyboys

| Mar 18, 2019
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Very feminine ladyboy.

Some years ago, when I first started contributing to TGForum, I wrote a number of articles about Ladyboys and the trials and tribulations they still face in Thailand—more often than not known as the “Land of the Ladyboy.”

Thailand, aka the Land of Smiles and where, generally, you can do pretty well much as you please (as long as it’s legal); you can present as you want or wear what you want, and no-one usually takes a second look. No-one will give you a second glance—and this applies not only in the tourist meccas of Pattaya, Phuket and Bangkok where there are some very strange, weird and wonderful people who visit from all over the world.

As a result of this high level of tolerance (not always acceptance, mind), you will find Ladyboys tucked away working in cosmetic shops, department stores, coffee shops and even in some offices (including Government offices such as Immigration or the Land Office); and such visibility is not only confined to Ladyboys, as there are lot of other gender variant people in almost every city and town in Thailand.

By and large, Ladyboys are left to go about their business, untroubled by overt discrimination and really very unlikely to encounter any of the risks of physical abuse and even worse which, sadly, seems so prevalent, especially in the U.S.

Yet, as I have touched on before, the discrimination towards Ladyboys in Thailand is far more subtle and includes:

  • inability to change the gender marker on their birth certificate or National Identity card, despite having been through full GRS;
  • necessity to attend the annual Thai Army, shall we call them, conscription seminars; at such seminars, all eligible people born with a male gender marker and aged 21 or under have to be interviewed, partially physically checked and exempted, if appropriate, from a 2-year stint in Army. For these Ladyboys who bear no resemblance whatsoever to a male and have undergone only partial (or no) GRS or who are on female hormones and yet to have any surgical treatment, these seminars can be highly stressful as there is a chance, however, small that they may be enlisted;
  • “glass ceilings” limiting their advancement in certain white-collar professions, although occasionally you will see the odd one or two doctors or dentists or business people who are, for want of a better word, Ladyboys;

It’s a pity, too, that most Thais and foreigners who live here tend to still lump together Ladyboys as one and the same—the result of which means that the stereotypical image of Ladyboy pervades. Yet as we all know, there are a myriad variety of Ladyboys: from cabaret and modeling stars to aggressive street walkers in the tourist hot-spots (most looking to earn enough for medication and/or surgery), to “everyday” girls just working in a regular job and looking for a better life.

Then there are girls who can be categorized by the degree of treatment they have been receiving, from the basic female hormones (birth control pills remain popular) to the officially dispensed female hormones, to those who have had top and/or bottom surgery plus whatever goes on in between! Then, finally differences abound, of course, in the sexual orientation of Ladyboys and varies widely, from straight, through gay and bi.

So, one of the key messages continues to be: help stop the discrimination against Ladyboys in Thailand (and Asia generally) and make sure you don’t fall foul of stereotyping them all just because you read some skewed article in the local or international media!

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Category: Transgender Opinion

Christine B

About the Author ()

Christine has written numerous (at least 150) articles, columns, op-eds, features & stories for well known T magazines, websites & e-zines; she also works as a part time fiction editor for Club Lighthouse Publishing, and is a co-editor of an award winning T-girl Magazine. In addition, she has written 8 adult books mainly in the T sub-genre which have been published by Club Lighthouse Publishing, for whom she has been the best selling author for the last 5 years.

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