Having seen the video you may be shocked at what happened to Bella and sympathise with her.
I know I do.
But do you feel that what happened to her is indicative of a broader theme? I am referring to the way in which Thai society and the Thai government regard Ladyboys. At best they are afforded sympathy for being born into a kind of ‘nether world’ between genders and despite Buddhist writing suggesting that in one incarnation we all, even the Buddha himself, will be or has been a kathoey, Buddhist monks try to teach kathoey how to be ‘men’. Is Bella’s suffering just one example of the disproportionate numbers of kathoey raped, beaten and murdered in Thailand?
The UN Thailand report on LGBT issues noted that:
- Homosexuality is no longer considered a mental illness by the Ministry of Health; however,transsexuality is still pathologized.
- Transgender individuals cannot change their gender on identity papers. Existing marriage laws specifically reference only men and women.
- Legal and policy reform is seen as difficult both because lawmakers tend to be conservative, and because the constitution and country’s laws are seen as sacred.
- Although there is no overt persecution of LGBT people, Thai society does not wholly accept sexual and gender minorities. Attitudes towards LGBT individuals can be somewhat tolerant as long as LGBT people remain within certain social confines.
- There is a lack of understanding about the specific struggles and needs of LGBT people. Arguably, the greatest and often most important struggle that a Thai LGBT individual faces is that of family acceptance. Being respectful to the wishes of one’s parents and upholding a family reputation is fundamental to how a Thai individual conducts their life, which can run counter to those with a sexual orientation or gender identity that do not conform to social norms.
There are moves to change laws and stem the ‘tide’ of violence against transgender people in Thailand but without any, as far as I can see, statistics or evidence (apart from several notable cases) to prove it exists or at least to prove that transgender people are more commonly victims than either genetic males or females.
I believe Bella considers the terrible thing that happened to her as an individual act of unspeakable violence rather than an example of the way transgender people are targeted. Not once did she speak in terms of her gender being a triggering factor. The man was known to her and he may well have been aware that she was a kathoey noi and feminine in appearance and behaviour but we cannot know this with any certainty.
Statement like those would be considered as either heresy or ‘hate speech’ by a significant number of LGBT individuals and organisations in the west, where simply saying it is so should be enough!
There is no burden of proof upon the apparatchicks of non binary gender. #webelieve
The lack of understanding about LGBT struggles is understandable surely but unfortunately what begins as an ‘observation’ in an NGO report will soon become a set of directives handed down by a government body to educators, policy makers, social health managers and the police.
A failure to perceive the struggles of LGBT people in the familial context is a ‘hate crime’.
‘You asked (insert non binary pronoun) what her father thought about (insert non binary pronoun) being a (sic) ‘ladyboy’.
You are looking at serious gaol time!
One of the things I like about Thai people and ladyboys in particular is that despite the glaring gap in rights and freedoms between them and transgender people in the western world, Thai ladyboys are not constantly whining about the patriarchy or the oppression they suffer.
They do not consider themselves victims and follow the false narrative so well trodden by almost every non-white, non-hetero group in existence.
While Thailand could be accused of a draconian approach to individual rights it’s leaders often make sense.
any state worth living in seeks to preserve what makes it successful and it’s traditions and culture are almost the DNA of that success.
I have no feelings either positive or negative regarding homosexuality but I have noticed the burgeoning weight of media influence to accept homosexual relationships as the ‘norm’ over the last several decades. it is probably a little difficult to find a TV show that does not have a gay character or theme. It’s as if, not content with being granted equal rights, Hollywood and international media outlets are trying to insist that being gay is actually far better in every way than being heterosexual. As a man in what most people would consider a gay relationship I do not feel the need to convince anyone that my way is the best way.
Thailand is slow to offer equal rights to transgender people because it still has an interest in tradition and native culture. The culture is slowly being eaten away of course and Songkran is a good example of that. Just like at Christmas, rampant commercialism has degraded and denigrated Songkran into a water pistol fight. While I am pro-free markets and capitalism especially that which allows individuals to flourish and improve their lives, should there be some brakes placed on the way tradition, history and culture are altered forever and often not for better?
I don’t have the answer. But I enjoy the way culture is alive in Thailand and would not wish to see it damaged.
Equal rights for our girls in Thailand will come but without the political ideology working Thai ladyboys like so many puppets I don’t see them trying to insist on quotas or any other form of state intervention in the way people think.
It goes without saying that we all want ladyboys like Bella to enjoy equal rights and never to suffer discrimination but Thai ladyboys would probably be among the first to say that they don’t want to damage their own culture and traditions in order to achieve those rights. They know big changes take time and do not simply happen in isolation but rather echo across the entire social and political spectrum.
That is what separates most Thai people from their western counterparts who seem to want nothing greater than to tear down their own society and watch it burn.