Thailand: Everyman

Thailand: Everyman

She is back in my bed again. She is back in my heart again. As we exit the MRT at Huay Kwang the sky is heavy. ‘It rain’, she says. ‘Storm come’, I say. I ask her why she wants to pray. ‘I think you know Dawid’. I have no idea but I feel nervous for a reason I cannot tell. She holds my hand as I almost trip over the shoes piled at the entrance to the Papikanet shrine at Rachada, Bangkok. Papikanet is what Thai people call Ganesh, the elephant headed god of the Hindus. The Thai animist form of Buddhism adopted Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. The heavy smoke of incense hangs in the air. Can you smell it floating in the humid, still air of the shrine and street outside as it mixes with the cooking smells coming from street traders and car exhausts as the traffic rushes past this place of ornate and fragrant holiness? Sweat is pouring from my head. It is difficult to see. A garland of yellow flowers and a bunch of joss sticks are thrust toward me. She looks at me quizzically as if I should know what to do. She takes my hand again, leads me to a space on the floor. I kneel beside her. I am the only farang (white foreigner) in the shrine. ‘You must have a wish in your heart, koh jai mai, (understand?)’ she asks. ‘Yes’, I say numb with something spiritual? Something momentous feels as if it will happen, something otherworldly? We pray. I glance at her and see she is asking for...
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...
What was Sky TV’s Ladyboys series about?

What was Sky TV’s Ladyboys series about?

The Sky Living TV series, Ladyboys was aired in the United Kingdom in April 2012 and at the end of the year in Australia. More recently it has been shown in the Phillipines and seems to be repeated constantly on Sky TV Due to copyright control I am unable to feature Ladyboys on this site. Here, is a synopsis of each episode in Series 1, from an ‘inside’ point of view. Episode 1-Beauty Queens I have spent hours of my life watching Ladyboy pageants and as far as I am concerned they are hours I can never get back! Annie loves them of course especially as she was a cabaret dancer in Samui herself. Tiffany’s is a profitable commercial business and I think that it is important to remember that. The transgender people featured in this episode are following their dreams and the chance to win 10,000 USD. For an entry fee of 500 USD and a lot of beauty treatment, fame and a cash prize of 10,000 USD awaits. Although they may be lovely people they can rarely compete with Thai Ladyboys in terms of feminine looks or grace. It seemed to me, as an observer, that the most feminine did not get into the top rankings. The only ladyboys who are able to compete on equal footing are Phillipino, Thai and to some degree South Americans although they tend to be a little bigger. Now, I am not suggesting that all Thai ladyboys are paragons of beauty and grace or even that they all look exactly like women. In fact, very few ladyboys could be mistaken for...
Annie Andasuk.

Annie Andasuk.

Annie’s tight, round ass is rolling in time with the Isaan music blasting across the seated throng. You hold her hips clad in her little denim shorts. She dances raising her hands in the archetypal V sign adopted by all Thai people. She thrusts her ass in your face, laughs and tells you she loves you as you kiss and drink together. You cannot compete with her in the eyes of the watching crowd. Your farang statehood usually draws all eyes but tonight this ladyboy is stealing the show. Tonight you are the Base and she is the Flyer. She is the entertainment and you are the support she needs. Like all exciting dancers she needs to feel something solid beneath her, holding her, loving her. You like this job. You realise that you love her and that the horror and pain of your last Thai ladyboy relationship is almost forgotten. Perhaps not forgotten but accepted, resolved in part and without the sharp pangs of heartache and sadness that have been flooding your emotional landscape for as long as you can remember. Tonight you feel you are waking from a bad dream and like the rest of Thailand, drying out after the floods. The morning light no longer seems so depressing. She smiles, ‘I love you so much my husband, I love YOU’! She shouts over the music. You smile. You believe her. That’s a new experience. But it almost never happened, did it? You remember Pattaya in September. You have gone to fetch her back to Bangkok realising you want to be with her but the face and...
Should trans women compete against men or women?

Should trans women compete against men or women?

CrossFit — Sued By Transgender Athlete … You Won’t Let Me Compete With Women! Chloie Jonsson, a personal trainer and CrossFit athlele from Los Gatos, CA., is suing CrossFit for $2.5 million. She wanted to compete last year in the CrossFit Games, but was banned from competing as a woman because she was born a man. A transgender, Jonsson has undergone surgery and is recognized by the state as a woman. She is accusing them of “violating her civil rights,” according to TMZ. Jonsson, 34, has considered herself female since her teenage years. She underwent transformation surgery in 2006 and even changed her birth certificate to female. She states that the surgery, along with hormone therapy, are enough to be recognized by the state as a female and she is exerting her right to compete in the CrossFit events as a woman. The athlete was banned from competing at CrossFit events, however, because the company is standing by the fact that Jonsson was born a male. They believe that Jonsson may have an advantage over women in the competition who were not born with male chromosomes. The company maintains its stance that they want to keep the competitions fair for everyone involved. Allowing Jonsson to compete would go against that rule, giving her an unfair advantage over the female competitors. She received a letter from CrossFit saying, “We have simply ruled that based upon being born as a male, she will need to compete in the Men’s Division.” Dale Saran, CrossFit’s general counsel, posted in an online discussion board where he states that Jonsson failed to supply medical records....