Why are there so many Ladyboys in Thailand?

Why are there so many Ladyboys in Thailand?

Thailand has the highest rate of Transsexuals throughout the world. According to some academics, the numbers differ from about 10,000 to (unofficially) 300,000. Even if the number of 10,000 is an accurate one, it would still represent an incidence substantially above that estimated for transgender people in most other parts of the world. To explain the case for this high number of transsexuals, some academics refer to the impact of Buddhism in Thailand and how it leads to an understanding of transsexuals in the current day. The terms ‘transsexual’ or ‘transgender’ are rarely used in Thailand. Instead, “Kathoey” is a common term. It was originally used for hermaphrodites (human being who have both sexes- male and female), but nowadays it is mainly used to describe the transgender male. Looking up the word “kathoey” in a Thai language dictionary, we get the following definition: ‘the characteristics of a kathoey is someone who cross-dresses (lakka-phet), a male who likes to act and dress like a woman and has a mind like a woman”. Ladyboys themselves favour the term, Ladyboy over kathoey, considering it a politer form of address. Interestingly they use the catch-all term to include males who behave in a feminine way that in the West would be described as ‘camp’ this regardless of whether the individual has undergone surgery or not, has long hair or not or wears make-up and female clothes or not. The number of kathoey in Thailand is surprising to the American or European traveller and the reasons for their number may, at least in part, lay in religion and religious attitudes in Thailand. The main...
The Silver Bullet

The Silver Bullet

This is an excerpt from Bangkok Baby, by David Bonnie. It’s available on Amazon, Bangkok Books and Barnes & Noble. I had a reckoning in Bangkok late last night. Travis rode the silver bullet over the Chonburi state line to be where the action was. Across the city Beauty shares a cab with J to the hangout on 22. The made men sit drinking warm beer in the evenings soft heat The New Yorker pulls into town figures it all out from the signs in the book of Leviticus. He carries it for the benefit of the strangers that sojourn in this holy land. Keeping the laws of the jungle at bay is a life’s work. So midnight’s men are met at their rendezvous for the night beneath that giant Emporium sign that brings so much joy if not to us then to the hearts of our Ladyboys. They are ours, after all is said and done. There’s a carnival every night out on Sukhumvit and a dance that is measured in steps between the hungry and the hunted as they face off against each other. Nobody knows which is which. But nocturnal contracts are made and they disappear together only to reappear alone, empty. The streets are alive with secret debts overdue, assignations, partings. Promises made, ‘ never again’ and a police siren rips apart the strange sanctity of the Nana Jungle. It’s Big Buddha Night. Again. In the Nana parking lot the mai tam mesha sport the latest ‘Paris’ fashion. Those fresh from Isaan just sport flesh. Fashion TV plays in the corner bar. The girls down here are like ghosts;...
Bangkok-Day One

Bangkok-Day One

This is an excerpt from Bangkok Baby, by David Bonnie. It’s available on Amazon, Bangkok Books and Barnes & Noble I knew something big was going to happen today. I came up from a deep sleep to alert, gasping for breath. I was dreaming about falling and just before I hit the ground I woke up . . . and started laughing to myself . . . I couldn’t stop laughing. I was lying in the bedroom of the Royal Asia Hotel, Sukhumvit soi 8, Bangkok. Yesterday, was it yesterday? I was in England. How could I be so far away from what I knew in such a short space of time? . . . . .My laughter began to sound like panic . . .even to me. I was completely alone . . . having left everything and everyone I know behind! I suddenly heard my father’s voice . . . ‘You need backbone to live the life you want!’ He was Sergeant Major of the 11th Hussars before he died last year. I miss him. The day passed without a ripple but under the surface I was ticking and tight, waiting for the night to come. I knew I was going to take a giant step, a step that would set me free. I had seen Ladyboys online and these creatures fascinated me. I tried to understand why? I am way past 21 and have never entertained the idea of gay sex. No. not even a little. I remember when I was a soldier hearing a story about some guys from my Company who got tricked by some Ladyboys in the...
Bangkok Tattoo

Bangkok Tattoo

  This is an excerpt from Bangkok Baby, by David Bonnie. It’s available on Amazon, Bangkok Books and Barnes & Noble. You are running in nightimes chirruping heat. Sweat is burning your eyes now and you turn from the dark of soi 6 where you both live onto KrugThonburi alive with pink and yellow taxis, tuk-tuks and the smell of burnt carbon. You thought you could handle her proposition but later a kind of panic gripped your heart and still you cannot breath, but you keep running . . . time is running out. It is 10.40 as you jump into the On Nut train just as the doors close. The cold air hits you and you force yourself to sit down. You try to phone her again but again there is no answer . . .she is doing what she feels she must. Is she doing it for both of you? You have to stop her before it’s too late, before the world unhinges itself and all the pieces fly apart destroying everything you love. A young, pretty girl covered in tattoos sits opposite you: there is only one place she is heading. Just like you. She looks in your eyes and a feeling passes between you, the kind of feeling shared between soldiers moments before a battle. ‘Naanaaaa’says the voice of the train. Somebody laughs, somebody always laughs. In the laughter is a kind of nervousness and an edgy, tense excitement. You wait until the door opens before you leap up and out. Tonight you cannot face the stares of the farang couples on the train. That look that says, ‘we...
Bangkok Love Story

Bangkok Love Story

Prologue The sound of a farang shouting at a bar girl who has poured too much coke in his drink makes you look to your left and the Big Dog bar. The girl speaks no English so perhaps this is among her first weeks in Bangkok. Music is playing very loudly in the bar, ‘I met a gin soaked barroom queen in Memphis, she tried to take me upstairs for a ride’. The girl looks frightened. The smoke of the barbecue’s mixes with the stink of the rotting garbage, stale sweat and piss. Decay, degradation and the faces of the Thai vendors and motorcycle taxi drivers are etched into the grey concrete at the entrance to Soi 4 like an ancient economic truth. Their look is not envious, nor jealous and not full of hate; but the look of those trapped in the waking dream world of constant and chronic poverty. They are the faces of the drowned and drowning. ‘It’s the ho, o, o, nky tonk women, give me, give, give me the honky tonk blues’. This is Bangkok. This is Nana. But you are looking past the messy third-world order of cracked and dirty tarmac and paving slabs that border the car park. You have lived long enough to know that under the surface of things lays the dream reality that you seek. Bangkok; full of men and women with plans to escape back to Surin, Korat, Leeds or Texas; just as soon as they have enough money or less desire. But what you see is something tender in the way Bangkok holds its residents. In the...