Ladyboys Need an Image Makeover

| Oct 26, 2015
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There are myths and more myths about Thai Ladyboys.

Most of these myths revolve around the assumption that everything is fine and wonderful with being Transgendered in Thailand. That Thai Ladyboys live a wonderful life; going about their everyday routines dressing and living as the females they were clearly meant to be.

After all, isn’t it the realization of the dreams of most of us T people, to be able to do just that? Not having to worry about what other people think about us and not be fearful of being verbally abused or, even worse, physically attacked just because we wish to express ourselves as female?

In a generally tolerant society such as Thailand the fear of direct abuse is pretty well unfounded and, yes, Ladyboys can get around without much more than the odd stare of two; overt comments are rare and, by and large, for sure Thailand remains a great place to be T.

However, there are clearly two sides to issues such as this and to gauge a cross-section of views about Ladyboys from some local and foreign residents, I have, over the last three or so weeks, been bringing up the topic of being a Ladyboy in Thailand in general conversation with friends and other acquaintances. I have been doing this fairly discreetly (partly so as not to arouse curiosity from those I spoke to as to why I am so interested in Ladyboys) but also so that I have, hopefully, obtained fairly honest, and not contrived views which I might have received had I simply come out saying I was doing a “survey” on T issues.

The results and conclusions of my surreptitious survey?

Well, one thing stands about above all others:

Ladyboys in Thailand need a very good PR consultant to do an urgently needed image makeover.

In fact, what the survey did show me is the widely differing views on Ladyboys depending on who I asked. For ease of summary I have grouped the comments I received broadly according to the type of person I asked. By the way, I should say here that the sampling size was quite small and I don’t imagine for one minute that these answers can help in any way towards a scientific analysis of the issue; I’d call them the results of a straw poll, nothing more:

  • From transient, first time visitor Asian tourists: “so beautiful, loved the cabaret shows, best part of my trip; the Ladyboys are prettier than “real women.”
  • From transient first time visitor non-Asian tourists (i.e. from Holland, Germany, France or the U.S.): roughly the same as the above but plus: “Are they all gay?” “It’s quite strange, we don’t have people like that in XXX.”
  • From more experienced, repeat visit tourists: “Can’t trust them, they all cheat and rob tourists”; or “Oh, all Ladyboys sell sex and drug their clients afterwards.”
  • From single men or those traveling with friends for a “man’s holiday”: either:

* “Great looking, but they’re all prostitutes,” or

* “Stay well away, cheating, lying; most of them will drug and rob you,” or

* “They’re disgusting; what are they, men in dresses?” “They’re not real women.” (Only for the same person to reappear an hour later with a very attractive Ladyboy in tow, heading for some “short-time” hotel.)

  • From local Thais: “They have a mental problem, I feel sorry for them” or ”Mai pen rai (literally: “it’s okay”) but I’m glad he’s not my brother or cousin” (Yes, most Thais persistently use the male pronoun to describe a Ladyboy, perhaps due to “boy” being in Ladyboy.)

Hearing all of these sweeping generalizations made me sad. Sad that people don’t take the time to understand. Don’t take the time to think about the issues T people face: issues such as the ongoing struggle with getting an education, the “glass-ceilings” to careers; the ostracization from the T’s own families; the fact that the proportion of Ladyboys who do cause some form of trouble is relatively small; the objectification of Ladyboys for sex…

Anyone know a PR guru who can perform a great image makeover?

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul

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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