About Us-A Trans-gender, Trans-cultural Relationship
Here in Bangkok it’s a terrific ladyboy dating tool and in the summer of 2011 Annie and I met for the first time. I had been living in Bangkok for a little more than a year when I met Annie and in that time I had spent time with lots of ladyboys, found out the hard way never to date prostitutes and quite literally, written a book about my experiences, called Bangkok Baby.Buy it here.
This story is mine and Annie’s. We are very different but just as you and your girlfriend are different, you and I, we are the same in many ways.
I came to Bangkok and was done with all love, that unreliable motive for living.
I buried it, or more accurately slaughtered it and dumped the body, car and murder weapon, in a pool. Then I flew away.
After screwing anyone I met, paying many of them for a few months to keep my distance I noticed bubbles rising from the dead-pool.
Loneliness, or something like it popped on the surface.
Loneliness is not an attractive state and so it rarely gets a mention in thrillers about private detectives traversing dark cities as it repels more than attracts the subject of its craving, like leprosy or a runny nose.
But, a little lost, I listened to it’s baby voice, found a girl or something like it and guiltily ripped out most of the pages of the book called, Never Love A Whore.
It’s recommended reading but I recommend that you don’t emulate me.
Love? Already told you.
Passion, betrayal, told you.
Jealousy, mortal suffering, lies, told you.
Later, meeting Annie, I was as wired as a man can be and well versed in Thailand’s real language and knew all about smiles and Thai friendliness.
She was standing at the end of a scruffy Bangkok street wearing a red t-shirt, smiling.
She moved in. She moved out and between those two actions our destiny was brokered, because I told her to go and she wanted to stay.
Love in some form happens quickly in Bangkok. Put on the brakes.
It’s a trap waiting for us all.
Well, of course it does. It matters if you are transgender, transexual, gay or straight.
It matters because we were fighting wars before they were born. How could we possibly relate; how could she possibly relate to my experiences?
The less one thinks about it and talks about it the better. Each day must begin and end afresh. Feet on the ground, head in the clouds. Make it up and enjoy the passing of time. Nothing can ever be done for money, only for love. Be strong.
I tired very quickly of the high speed dating, screwing and cheating that goes on here in the Land of Smiles . . and found that love, real love is hard to find.
I resisted her, holding on to my feelings, determined not to fall for her, even sending her away and not seeing her for some time but finally, when I thought about the person who made me smile the most, I thought about Annie.
But we nearly lost each other and when I let her go, back in 2011 this is what I wrote:
She is dancing out there on the edge of your waking mind, defying reason, logic and good sense.
Young, naïve, beautiful and possessing of a kind of happy, untutored wisdom and warmth you crave more with every day that she is gone.
Annie, where are you and why did I ever let you go?
You wake up and roll onto your back, a little bit wiser than in the days that have gone before.
The room spins past your eyes just like the last months in Bangkok; recognisable as days but lacking any real definition; a hazy semblance of time passing and ladyboys passing through.
You wipe the wetness from your eyes and feel a body pressing into your side. So smooth it feels like brown ivory. She mumbles; ‘Tahan’, in her bleary slumber. Last night’s ladyboy.
The radio is still playing from the whisky a go-go in your room but in the light of day the music is more portentous than it has any right to be.
The cold blast of the air conditioner that you have never got around to adjusting begins to wake you up. It’s not pleasant.
You do not even have the distraction of May to occupy your tumbling mind; she won’t be awake for hours yet. It is only 11am and she lives in a different time zone from us working stiffs.
So put me on a highway, show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time
The music fades as you remember . . .
In her friend’s room Annie kept her clothes in a shopping bag. You thought nothing of it then only seeing her eyes and her smile.
She invited you there one Sunday afternoon in July. It was a first, tentative assignation at Phra Kanong.
Riding there on the moto-taxi your stomach is contracting into a knot, ‘maybe this girl, maybe?’ You feel like you have been searching so long for someone, anyone who speaks the good, old-fashioned, unvarnished truth and does not try to involve you in some form of deception.
She comes downstairs and watches you climb from the pillion.
The knot tightens; she is beautiful. She is wearing a little, red T-shirt and denim shorts. Her long hair is curling a little in bangs that fall to her shoulder. She is very beautiful. You smile.
As you follow her up the apartment stairs she said, ‘My friend stay here is ok?’ It was OK. Anything she said was OK.
Her friend is sitting in between two mattresses on the floor watching gay porn on her Iphone. You stop like hitting a wall. Her friend is Ice of Guess Bar, perhaps the only ladyboy in Bangkok you truly dislike. She is a miserable bitch who’s meanness is barely concealed by the Yim lessanai (the smile that masks wicked thoughts).
Annie stretches her lean body out on the bed opposite you and made small talk in Ladyboy english, a nod, a smile a word or two.
You look at her breasts but let go of any plans, any strategy. This is the style you have adopted in Bangkok. Never let anyone see that you want something, anything, from them.
Why was I so cynical? Read about the days before I met Annie here.
‘You horny?’ says the hideous Ice sitting between you like a goblin. ‘I horny too, but everyone must pay’.
The idea of a threesome that had been running through your dirty mind (despite your dislike of Ice) stops in its tracks.
Then the goblin says to Annie, ‘You horny, can boom-boom, I not shy’.
Annie sits by your side and touches your leg. You hear cracked wedding bells and suddenly see her dressed in white.
The days pass and you have been with her, to the mall, the movies, the bedroom and every minute is spent smiling and laughing. You have spent so little money on her but she tells you. ‘It ok, I have money before but no happy, I only need little to take care.’ Doubting her words you talk to her friend, ‘ some people not care too mush about money only want someone love them’.
Annie is like soul food for a jaded heart. She happily teaches you Thai phrases and laughs at your attempts to reproduce the tones correctly; ‘narak’, she says, thinking your foolishness cute. You tell her she is too young to be your girlfriend that this is only fun for a short time that she is free to do whatever she wants whenever she wants.
You see that twist like a knife in her guts but she says nothing, except, ‘you think easy find someone take care my heart?’
But you are too lost in the past to see the shining, bright present unfold before your eyes.
You test her constantly, doubting every childlike, affectionate action, every word.
‘When we go into the apartment lobby, if I tell you, go to the toilet and wait until I call you to come out Annie, ok?’
‘Ok, I go, but not need peepee’.
‘It not matter, ok, just waiting me there baby’.
Earlier that day you had toured the condos in the vicinity looking for a suitable swimming hole/party venue. Your apartment does not have a pool so you have to visit friends of which you have precious few or con your way into a hotel or condominium. Q house presented the best opportunity and you had crossed the Thai security guards palm with silver. Now she love you long time sure. Farangs are rarely challenged.
She throws up a little salute as you enter the lobby with Annie trotting along beside you; faithful, adorable little Annie.
What a cheap bastard you were.
‘Bring your swimming clothes, I take you to pool party’, you told Annie that morning. Excited she arrived looking delicious and ready for the guy she wants to be her boyfriend.
The inner door to the elevators is closed and of course you don’t have a key card but anticipating this you push Annie towards the toilet and wait. You smile too many times at the receptionists and pace, waiting for a real resident to open the door that you then hold open, call Annie and enter.
The pool is on the top floor and you swim luxuriously in the Bangkok heat and ignore Annie studiously.
What an idiot you were.
She comes and sits by you, follows you around the pool adoringly, smiles and laughs hysterically, as do you, when a little Thai boy cannot stop laughing out loud at his cartoon book.
This beautiful, special day that you failed to recognise as such could have been the start of something wonderful.
You felt something more for her than lust on that day and that is why you were so cool with her. Sad, sad fool.
Twisted up with the lies and the double, trouble thai ladyboy drama you have lived with for so long . . .you recognised that the feeling of sabai-jai you have when you are with her could grow into something that can hurt you as well as make you feel good. So you hid from her.
What a disappointment you were.
In all your lustful meetings, you never took her anywhere. You never made her feel special or gave her more than a 100baht note for her taxi home. What a mistake you made. You never told her you loved her and now she’s gone.
Annie’s family all worked in construction. They lived together, uncles, brothers, sisters down soi 27 Punnawithi on a building site. When the Thais work on a new apartment building they construct a kind of tin city and live inside it for the duration of the job. The first time she asked me to go and meet her family it was raining hard. She stepped daintily across the muddy ruts and puddles outside the giant shack she was calling home. Inside I sat on her bed: a plywood board wedged between two upright timbers and the side of the corrugated tin wall. Everyone else slept on the hard floor.
We sat with the men, girls and babies and played ‘HI-LO’, a kind of Thai roulette but with dice not a wheel. Big money was won and lost, whisky was shared . . . and that sense of ‘live today, don’t think too much something will turn up tomorrow’, was as palpable, as breathable as the cigarette smoke that filled the room. I took her home. I wish I had kept her there but I let her go back to that place the next day; and the next, and next until I stopped calling her and she gave up on me, almost.
I was so resistant to getting involved with a ladyboy after my first experiences. I was pretty cynical and ‘tried out’ a lot of ladyboys for the role of potential girlfriend. It took me a while to ‘get out of my head’ and longer still to begin to trust Annie.
Almost 4 years have gone by since I wrote that. Today we live together in the south-west Bangkok, near the Chao Phrya River and we are still smiling and sabai, sabai together. Annie still makes me laugh every day and since we have been together our fortunes have improved. I have found progressively better jobs. Starting out in any country can be tough if you arrive with only a handful of money and nothing arranged in advance.
The dynamics of a T-girl partnership are not necessarily bounded by the virtue of a girl’s trans status, in my opinion. Relationships are all about people, individuals and not gender types or cultural groups. I think that it takes time before some of the gender and cultural specifics become familiar and of less importance and now nether Annie or I even think about her gender except in terms of prejudice or advocacy for trans people and for Thai people who like Annie are born into poverty.
Annie began to take female hormones after we met. She had used them a little before but generally they had made her sick but she wanted to modify and soften her appearance and soften her skin so tried them again in a different brand. These hormones are pretty bad for ladyboys long term health especially when taken by the handful! Annie takes 2 birth control pills (Diane 35) a day. I try to discourage her but to no avail.
This picture was taken in Bangkok during the early days of our relationship. Annie was not taking hormones of any kind back then.
This picture is at Gullivers on Sukhumvit soi 5 in Bangkok and Annie’s features have softened a little after beginning to take hormones.
A little later . . .
This is a pretty recent photo of Annie and she has by now listened to me a little at least and curtailed the amount of hormones she was taking. Nowadays she tends to cycle 3 weeks on and at least 1 week off hormones.
We have met some good friends and learned the types of people and places that are best to avoid here in Thailand. We have traveled together in Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and most recently England and Scotland. We made two series of the hit UK television documentary series, Ladyboys, together and will soon be making a series of films for social media in Bangkok. Hope you tune into our channel, The Real Ladyboy Show in a couple of months.