"Fix Society. Please."

It would have been devious not to write about Leelah Alcorn even though it is my first post to this blog. Yet, a blog on transgender issues would be incomplete these days if I was avoiding writing about this 17-year old transgender girl's saddening story which surfaced only through her disturbing suicide note she had published on her tumblr before takin her own life.

The story of her short life and her decision to end it out of hopelessness might not sound too unusual for people familiar with trans biographies and the prevalent desperation of many transgender people.
It appears to be more for the clear symptomatology inherent in her case that caught the attention of the media who are generally rather reluctant when it comes to covering transgender issues. Yet, Leelah's
explizit reproaches in her suicide note to her parents and society made it obviously easier for editors to develop the story of a child turning to her parents for help in a vitally important parting of the ways for her future life and being not only denied support but having everything made worse by the one's she depended on. 

The story of her life and death has been quoted manififold in all kind of publications around the world. If you still have not read or heard about it, I suggest to read it in Leelah's own words

Leelah had been born into a christian-evangelical family. After understanding about herself being transgender she confessed this fact to her parents who reacted "extremely negatively", said "that it was a phase" and that she would never truly be a girl.
As if this wasn't cruel enough, her parents send her to an Christian conversion therapist, a type of
pseudo-scientific counselling that is condemned by all leading psychatric and psychological associations e.g. the American Psychiatric Association.

One does not need to possess an abundance of empathy to imagine the destructive force of those parent's actions for a teenage psyche. Yet, Leelah seemed quite composed, showing altruism even while writing her last words:

"The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year."
By refering to the number of transgender suicides Leelah indicated the alarming figures that have stayed at a disturbingly high level during the years in most countries in the western world.
The latest survey on "Suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults" by the American Society for Suicide Prevention published in 2014 shows that 42% of trans women have attempted suicide. The average among the general population is just 1,6%!

Those are the numbers to which an absence of toleance and acceptance, support, integration and appreciation in a society leads to. Accordingly, Leelah's suicide note's closing line reads:
"I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please."
Rest in Power, Leelah!  

Image: "Leelah Alcorn" by wunking

We got mail!

Oh, we definitly got some Mail recently. And it piled up quite a lot in my mailbox. 
Truth to be told, I had neglected this blog during the last few months as I was not sure if it was worth breathing new life into it.
But as mentioned above a look into my blog's mailbox smoothed out these doubts rapidly.
I spend all this afternoon replying to the mails I got and activating the comments made to many of my blog posts.

After that, just to make sure I was not misinterpreting all those emails I checked the stats of this blog.
Much to my amazement I found out that this blog reaches thousands of people every month even though I had not provided any new content in it for almost a year.
A closer look at the figures unveiled that the numbers of readers have been surging especially during the last couple of months.
These numbers are congruent with my general observation that transgender topics are spotlighted much more than they were a few years back.

So far the majority of our (and recently only my) post had been dealing with transgender/ladyboy issues geographically reduced to a few Asian countries and particularly Thailand. Obviously, this facet of trans life in Southeast Asia is still fascinating for many people out there. Still it does not show the full picture.
During the last years transgender people in Western countries -in the US i.e. Laverne Cox, Janet Mock and Carmen Carrera-  have ascended and are now representing the many perspectives of transgender topics such as advocates, writers, wives, actresses, producers, parents, founders and public speakers.
I appreciate this development a lot since I always considered the general view on transgender matters too limited to our beauty, our sexual attractiveness for some and the fact that we are tolerated,  
accepted and natural part of many Southeadst Asian societies. As for me, this limited picture has always been too small and incomplete. Therefore I had been indecisive wheter to keep up blogging or not.
Now three things happened that contributed to my decision to continue this blog:
  1. The progress of trans people I see in Western countries is encouraging and now or never is the time to tell the world about transgender life and our point of view on things regarding us. That is exactly what we intended and have been doing with this blog during the recent years, so it's almost mandatory that especially now when an awareness for trans life is rising we girls keep up our writing about it.
  2. The surprising reception of this blog and it's promising recent trend. There is nothing bad about writing just for yourself. Only that it's then unnecessary to publish it on the internet and to check grammar and spelling. But since I've got so many honestly interested and earnest emails I sense some kind of demand for a blog like this even though I know there are hundreds of trans blogs out there. But perhaps none exactly like ours.
  3. @Tender_Jess
  4. Yes, I used the word ours in the last paragraph. I have mentioned before that I have been left as the only remaining contributor to this blog in the recent past since our team of authors had gradually disintegrated. It would have been unnatural if it had not happened with the years as we were all young girls with different layouts and plans for our lives. Now, I am happy to introduce my sister Jess to you who is not only an exeprienced writer, a transgender advocate and role model but also a feast for the eyes.
Together we are determined to publish more frequently and increase the variety of our topics. While still keeping the blog's core target on displaying transgender life, we will line up our topics also internationally as we don't want to restrict ourselves just to Southeast Asia. In addition, we will brush up this blog's layout a little as it is still from the last decade, include a working Twitter widget and go more multimedia that this blog had been so far.

You can also find us on Twitter at @victoriabkk and @tender_jess. Comments and ideas about this blog go as usual to victoria.phettisaam@gmail.com

Stay tuned and drop by once in a while to watch the progress. 

"27B-stroke-6! Bloody paperwork!" by TheeErin
is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

"@Tender_Jess" is © of @Tender_Jess

Transgender people not ‘butch‘ enough to act as themselves?

Hardly ever in the contemporary movie world are transgender roles played by transgender people.
But why? Men play men, women play women. So why shouldn't transgender people - provided they are considered as a another, a third sex, at all - not play transgender roles?
The answer to this question has more than one level. The most prominent reason is without doubt that transgender women long to be accepted by their environment as complete females.
So it`s rather unlikely for a transgender person to play the role of a person in a most complex and difficult chapter of life, when she herself has just scraped through it. You would not play a homeless, when you had once been homeless and you would not play the drinker when you had once been on the booze, would you?

Nevertheless I know some transgender actresses who play transgender roles.
And I watched too many movies and TV shows with transgender key roles that have been played by either men or women with an abundance of wrong stereotypes and cliché.
So maybe better leave it to the 'real' ones!
Laverne Cox is certainly the most famous African-American transgender actress and entertainer: She has produced and starred her own 8 episode makeover television series TRANSform Me in 2010.
As of late, she on the cast list of the latest net flix series 'Orange Is the New Black'.

Now, to contradict the lines I wrote above I admit: Laverne Cox is definetely woman enough to play a transgender role. Hence, in this women-in-prison drama Laverne plays the role of transgender inmate Sophia Burset. “The reality is you don’t often see trans characters played by trans folks and there aren’t a lot of trans roles written to begin with,” Cox told the New York Daily News.
Even more demanding: In an early episode the back story of character Sophia is told - when she worked as a fireman named Marcus who longed to be a woman. It was tempting for Cox to try and play that male role. After eight hours of hair and makeup to achieve a more masculine look she presented herself to director Jodie Foster. ’She didn’t think I was butch enough to pull it off!” Cox desribes Foster's reaction. So now, Cox' twin brother plays the 'male' part of Sophia Burset. Cox: I can walk down the street and hear somebody yell "That's a man!", so it is very comforting to hear somebeody say, that I wasn't butch enough'


At last: Transgender model Jenna Talackova allowed to enter Miss Universe Canada pageant

It must have been a massive shock for 23-year-old transgender model Jenna Talackova when she was kicked out of from the Miss Universe Canada beauty pageant on March 20th, because “she did not meet the requirements to compete” as a statement from Miss Universe Canada reads.
Talackova was disqualified the same day she revealed she was in fact born a male.
Jenna’s disqualification created an outage in the blogosphere and more than 42.000 people immediately signed an online petition to Miss Universe Canada.
Today, Miss Universe gave in and Jenna will be allowed to participate in the beauty pageant.
Jenna started taking hormones at the age of 14, underwent reassignment surgery at 19 and is today working as a model in Canada.

Photo from Jenna’s Model Mayhem profile

Ladyboys and Buddhism

When it comes to the question why there are so many Ladyboys in Thailand and why the transsexual community is so lively and integrated in everyday life, people often answer: "Because Buddhism is a very tolerant religion."
We have covered this question earlier on this blog and also looked into the subject of religion.

Buddhism is certainly a religion that is very tolerant towards other religions, also to those that have transgender people as part of their spiritual community (such as the Animism that is thousands of years old and had been there already before Buddhism came to Thailand.
Today, 94 % of the Thai population are officially Theravada Buddhists (although Thai people also believe Animism and Spirits).

In Thailand and there especially in the rural areas where the animist belief is still strong, modern Ladyboys are as much members of the religious community like everybody else in their village. In fact, many of the Ladyboys get even more involved in the daily religious life. They then of course behave like all the other females.
But is Buddhism tolerant to Ladyboys in general?
One has to keep in mind that Buddhism after all is a religion, too. As in every other religion there are many different trends and views on moral and behavior.
So even in Thai Buddhism conservative points of view do exist.
Only a couple of days ago AFP published an article on a temple in the Issan region at the Thai-Laos border where monks are running a programme to teach masculinity to teenagers who are Kathoey (Ladyboys, Transgender).
For example during an assembly the young Transsexuals are confronted with the question: ""Were you born as a man or a woman or can you not specify your gender - not man or woman?" You cannot be anything else but your true gender, which is a man. As a novice you can only be a man."
Also the headteacher Phra Pitsanu Witcharato complains about a transgender novice: "Sometimes we give them money to buy snacks but he saved it up to buy mascara."
"We cannot change all of them but what we can do is to control their behavior to make them understand that they were born as a man... and cannot act like a woman," says Phra Pitsanu in the AFP report.

"Once I leave the monkhood the first thing I want to do is to shout, to scream out loud saying: 'I can go back to being the same again!'"
Of course, statements like this enrage transgender activist: "These kids will become self-hating because they have been taught by respected monks that being gay is bad. That is terrible for them. They will never live happily", says Natee Teerarojanapong, coordinator of a gender identity network.

One of the Kathoey novices puts it like this: "Once I leave the monkhood the first thing I want to do is to shout, to scream out loud saying: 'I can go back to being the same again!'"

Of course trying to change the sexual and gender identity of these teenagers is absurd and will never succeed. Conservative Christians in western countries have tried this and caused more deviation than was started with.
At the same time one has to understand that if more and more Kathoey novices coin the image of buddhist monks it could affect the stability of Thai Buddhism and it's values. I read the AFP not like the monks at the Isaan temple try to get the female gender identity out of their novices (but I assume they would prefer doing so if they could) but try to uphold traditions and rules at the temple.
Novices are are not allowed to use perfume and make-up and are prohibited from singing, playing music and running.
Me and my Kathoey friends often take part in religious ceremonies and have been short-time-nuns on various occasions. While we do so, we are also not allowed to use perfume, nail polish and make-up. And we comply with these rules, like all the other females do.
So when a transgender person is a novice he or she is not allowed to apply these things since even nuns are not allowed to do so. It's simply against the rules.
On the other hand, trying to change these kids is not only in vain but can damage their mental well-being and last but not least - as campaigner Natee puts it - "very out of date".

Picture: My friend Opal during a temple ceremony at her hometown


Ladyboys at the Ballot Box

As many of our valued readers will know, we had general elections last Sunday in Thailand. I sure won’t start to talk about the result or the campaigns but I found a bit of news about Ladyboys and the ballot. Until today I tried to find more than the wire copy of REUTERS but I failed. Maybe I simply lack the talent to navigate the Election Commissions website (the Thai version as well as the English one).

Somehow somebody in political Bangkok must have remembered that there is a part of the electorate that they had marginalized during their campaigning. Now, at least the Election Commission secretary Suthipol Thaweechaikarn remembered the Thai transsexuals and advised election officials how to react in case a Ladyboy showes up at the ballot box:

“Their ID card […] may show a woman's face marked "mister", or a boy's face when the ID card holder looks like a woman.”
“In case of any problem in ascertaining the identity of voters, officials have a clear instruction to be polite in making inquiries and they must try their best to refrain from laughing.”

He also recommended that ID card holders who had undergone cosmetic surgery or a major facelift should carry a number of identity cards bearing pictures of their various stages of appearance.
I found this funny since everyone in Thailand is to carry a national ID card at all times from the age of 15. So imagine a 25-year old Ladyboy who was to document her development by keeping her ID cards. Not only would this be pretty humiliating but also useless since I know sisters who change their looks twice a week.
So how to keep record by using an ID card that is renewable only every seven years?!

Image: Trans Female Assiciation of Thailand

Poy Treechada (ปอย รีชฎา) on "Recent" Magazine Covers

Since those magazines have both been published a year ago, I found it appropriate to use quotation marks around the word "recent". But as far as I know those cover pictures have been the latest big appearances on major magazin covers (I found some others but in too poor quality to show them to our sphisticated readers :-)
The first one is from health magazine. The story on the inside had the title "Born to be Poy" and had been written in the style of a success story about Poy's life and her career.
The second cover picture was in a free issue of a lifestyle and city magazine of the Bangkok-based English language newspaper Bangkok Post. As you can read the title of the respective story was on international "Third Gender" people and Kathoey in Thailand. Unfortunately, I could not get hold of one of those issues. Might have been interesting to read a Bangkok Post editor's view on the Third Sex. It is remarkable though, that they picked most feminine Poy to represent the Ladyboys of Thailand. Rather inadequate as she is one of Thailand's beauty queens for a long time already and definitely above average. On the other hand it is unfair to her to still only reduce her to her being a transsexual. She has a proper career and a loving boyfriend and is hence way more successful than many Thai starlets.

10 Ways to spot a Ladyboy - or Sandra Bullock

I forgot to include this into yesterday's post but I have to mention it as it is too ridiculous:
There are dozens of websites written by western men that give advice on “How to spot a Ladyboy”.
Since it is always the same copy-and-paste 10-point list, there is certainly nothing more than pretended expertise behind it.
We have been stumbling upon those posts once in a while and found it rather funny, because if a man would stick to those rules he would not be able to tell, at all. But it sure would prevent him from going to bed with Sandra Bullock and Meg Ryan who are known to have a rather prominent Adam’s apple :-)

You can't tell - because we can't either!

Image: flickr/Doctor Hyde

Too Beautiful To Be A Girl?

When me and my friends walk down the streets of Bangkok and meet other people we are openly admired many times for our beauty. In Thai the word “beautiful” is used in abundance anyway, so when it comes to Ladyboys it is lavished on us generously.
One of the expressions used in this context is “more beautiful than a woman”.
I had never paid to much attention to this particular remark and took it as plain flattery.

Beauty Shot

Less is more: A natural yet beautiful woman

Yet, when one of us walks down the street sometimes people will murmur to each other: “Is she a real woman?”
For many years I found this most confusing because people always compliment our femininity and beauty. So how can they detect us as transsexual girls?

Two incidents led me to a better understanding of this:
Maybe two years ago I was dressed up rather chic with quite presentable make-up and felt comfortable the way I looked. However, I attracted more attention than usually and felt frustrated, because I was sure that nothing would give my “ladyboyness” away and I asked my female-female friend walking next to me: “Why are people looking at me? What is it?”

She simply replied: “Because you are looking good. Better than anyone around you.”
Still, it did not dawn on me what she meant.

Some months later I went to a party and late in the night a woman I had a conversation with, casually dropped a remark indicating that she knew I was a Ladyboy. Frustrated again I asked: “How could you know?”
She said: “Nothing. You are a perfect woman. I would not have recognized, if you weren’t too beautiful to be a girl.” For a second I found this answer most absurd but during the following days many of the jigsaw pieces fell into place:

All my female-female friends hardly ever apply full make-up, they sometimes have unclean skin, bushy eyebrows, are overweight and have an underdeveloped sense of fashion, whereas none of my Ladyboy sisters would ever allow this to happen to their bodies, as they have been seeking perfection since their early adolescence.
It’s not that we would exaggerate like some stage performers, drag queens etc, with stilt-like high heels, make-up outshining even the most colorful tropical parrot and swishy behavior.
It’s rather that we feel not feminine enough until we have everything perfect but hence make us seem as unreal as photoshopped cover girls of a fashion magazine.

I am still in the process of understanding this, because I feel like having followed the wrong path for too many years and could have avoided many frustrating situations.
But it obviously seems to be true – another occurrence verified it:

There was a meeting of people on a public location to rally for LGBT rights.
When I arrived there was a girl in a pretty dress with flawless make-up and nice hair. I had never met her before but immediately recognized her as a sister of my “tribe” and went to talk to her. Then another girl approached us. She had normal hair, no make-up, simple clothes. She asked: “Is this the Katoey-corner? Then I belong here.” I could not have recognized.

To avoid misunderstandings: I have never been over styled to much and I have been working all my life in regular jobs, mostly without my environment knowing about my being transsexual (only now I understand that it had been because I was wearing simple office dresses).
But recently I started to purposefully “downgrade”. I put on simple earrings, leave half of the make-up away (and feel naked) and jeans and a top seem to be alright, too.

And it works.

Image: flickr/ rexquisite

The Lola Complex

A year ago I had posted a piece on the song “Talk of all the USA” by the 70’s band Middle of the Road that deals with a relationship between a man and a transsexual women. I had been very surprised to find pop musicians of the early 70’s singing so openly about getting in touch with women of the second kind (สาวประเภทสอง Saao Prapeth Song , a nice thai expression for us that I can mention often enough :-) let alone a relationship
In a comment on that post our appreciated reader Boonsong pointed to the very famous 60’s classic rock song by The Kinks – Lola.

Check out the lyrics

Of course everybody has listened to this song a thousand times but most of us have probably never recognized that it deals with a flirt (or even more) with a transgender woman. Even on Wikipedia there is a section on how it came to that song although the story behind it is rather less romantic.

Thinking about those two songs one can be sure, that there is probably a lot of music out there dealing with that topic – but maybe not as obvious.
Now, I am wondering if there had ever been a meaning to those songs and if at all, what the conclusion might be, since, they all refer to their encounters as men. Maybe in those days it had been simply a two sex world (an antique point of view as we know today).

Still, the Lola complex seems to be still inspiring. Israeli pop singer Dana International - certainly one of the world’s most famous transsexuals – who had won the Eurovision Song Contest with her song “Diva” in 1998 had published a song called “Lola” already in 2005. Watching the video to this song, one will find out almost instantly that Dana picked up the Kink’s Lola complex and played with it:

Dana International – Lola

Maybe in a couple of years there will pop up another piece of music dealing with the Lola Complex and maybe even hint at it’s ancestor from more than 50 years ago.
In Thailand Trans-music is almost a style of music of its own even with different styles. Not only that it has become a fashion to have all-Katoey bands but it appears to sell pretty well, too.
As this is a huge topic I decided to dedicate some post to it.
So the next post will be on the transgender music scene in Thailand and Korea.

Career Step Stones of a Transsexual Beauty Queen

At had been a big success for Treechada Petcharat (ปอย รีชฎา) who is known over Thailand (but at least in the Katoey community) as Nong Poy (น้องปอย). Not only did she win Miss Tiffany’s Universe transgender beauty pageant at age 19 but also the title as Miss International Queen – both in 2004.
Usually, winners of beauty contests are carted all across the country where they absolve various promotional functions for a couple of months while their publicity is constantly fading until they disappear from the public awareness and continue to live rather common lives.

Not so Nong Poy. Even though her peak of publicity is over for almost six years she is still very present in Thai everyday life and has performances on a regular basis.
Her latest and probably one of the most regarded appearances had been just in the beginning of this year, when Nong Poy played in a TV commercial for the Thai telecommunications company G-Net.

Many years ago –it must have been 2005 – Ploy had one of her first appearances in the Doo Ba Doo music video for the then very famous song Mai Chai Poo Chai (I am not a man). A song that me and many transsexuals in Thailand liked a lot in those years and Ploy playing a love sick maid in the video was big fun.

Watching the Doo Ba Doo music video first and the the G-Net commercial you may recognize how Ploy and the role she plays have changed. From a rather slap stick staging (a role that many Katoey are playing in Thai shows) to a triple A, completely feminine beauty advertising high-tech communication services.
Great progress, considering how many one-time-starlets a vanished even quicker than they had appeared.

There is much more on Ploy to tell and show and I will create some more blog posts on her no that I have her introduced to our valued readers :-)

Third Sex Name Tags?

This was sure good news for many Ladyboys in Thailand: A new Thai airline announced that they would also accept applications for air hostesses from Transsexuals.
One of the first applicants was the winner of the Miss Tiffany Ladyboy Beauty Contest of the year 2007 Thanyarat "Film" Jiraphatpakorn.
P.C. Air Executive Peter Shan said they will undergo the same air-hostess training as their female colleagues and will then wear “third sex name tags” to avoid “immigration issues”.

Miss Tiffany 2007: Thanyarat Jiraphatpakorn

Among the first round of successful candidates for the job were 17 women, 10 men and three transsexuals.

A great thing since many of us have been dreaming about those jobs for quite some time, but have been rejected so many times.

But: What exactly are “third sex name tags”? And why? And what immigration issues?
In Thailand it is common to always add a Mr. (Naay, นาย), and Mrs (Nang, นาง) for men and women. Since bureaucracy is merciless when it commes to that, Transsexuals get a Mr. in front of their name on their name tags. I have always hated it and it took me always not longer than 5 minutes to storm into the next 7-Eleven storm, buy a pack of razor blades and scrape the “Mr.” off my name tag. I’ve already posted a piece on how embarrassing these titles are for Ladyboys in Thailand.

Because even in Thailand, wgen people are trying to treat us politely, they will address us as “Miss” which goes down very well in my opinion since must of us are unmarried females – the group for who that title is usually designed. But that is sure not a “third sex” title. In fact I don’t want to think of how these tags might look like: “Mr./Ms. or “Transsexual …”

And what are “immigration issues”?

I have traveled a lot and still do and I have never experienced any problems, since border police never checks what is written under “sex”.
In fact, only one time in Hong Kong a female police officer had told me that there was an “M” printed in my passport and said I should have that mistake corrected, which I found very amusing.

So far, I had not been able to find out more about that P.C. Air, nut I’d really ask one of their PR-Agents how they plan to implement these “third sex name tags”.
By now I could not find them on Google, but in news articles about their hiring transsexuals.

So far great PR!

Our Way

I remember when I was a kid not even at the age of a teenager, I knew what – or better who - I wanted to be. I had seen Trans-People before but it was when I had seen those pictures of lovely women with perfect bodies, beautiful hair and shimmering skin that had that “little extra”. The “extra” was of course nothing that turned me on, but proof that these girls were the same like I was.

Back then I – like all other people who are not trans* - felt an almost mystical admiration for these women.

Today, I am one of them and I experience a lot of admiration myself now but still, I can not completely describe that mystic feeling. Actually, even today I have that admiration when I meet another beautiful sister. For writing this post; I have reflected a lot on that admiring feeling and tried to clasp its substance.

I have come to the finding that it must be not only the result – a sexy girl, with a sometimes elfish smile – but the road she had to pursue to get where she is now. Conformably to my theory, I have recognized that when I was younger and a little more obviously in the progress of becoming, many times I had been asked, almost exclusively by men, about my way and how I’m getting along.

Girls, in contrast, marvel at us much more discreet and will only ask us once in a while for advice on beauty issues or admire our skin, hair etc.

I believe that all of them are aware that we are also pretty strong personalities since we all must have been through the school of hard knocks (and we sure have been there) and still have survived with a (more or less;-) sane mind and even came to pleasant looks and agreeable lives.

Just last weekend a guy, who I’d just meet a couple of minutes ago for the first time, asked me to tell him “my story”. Impudent and overconfident in my eyes since I am herewith telling you that no Ladyboy or Transsexual of our kind will squander the story of their way just like that as if it was an everyday anecdote.
It is something we reveal only a bit at a time. Even among us we only talk about it on rare occasions and very confidently.

This is not because we are ashamed of it, but because many simply could not understand. I have heard all kinds of stories so far: many very sad and almost heartbreaking. Others were rather adventurous and even exhilarant. While some of these roads were bumpy and hardly passable others were sloping highways, rollercoasters and slalom race tracks. Some were as long as to the moon and back, some even too short to be called a fair road.

Astonishingly, the winners of these races are quite similar compared to how different their ways had been and it sure had not been easy for none of us.
In retrospect, I consider the trip down that road even as an advantage that made us mature at an age when we were still teens and gave us experience of life – be it good or bad – which many people have to life a whole life for to obtain.
Maybe we don’t tell you our stories, but be sure they are the sources where our elfish smiles come from.

The realization of what was expected

It was the first time that producers had admitted a transsexual to participate in the Brazilian offshoot of the Big Brother Show circus. For most it was just another trick to provoke good ratings but for some in Brazilian public it had also been a proof how far homophopia has really –if at all - decreased and how open a debate on transsexuality and transsexuals in Brazil could really be. The result was explicit:
Ariadna Thalia, 26, got voted out of the house as the first of all 17 participants with the devastating amount of 49 % of the people that had called in to cast their vote.

It sure was not because of Ariadna’s behaviour and character, which could have been described as rather humble and quiet – certainly the complete opposite of what most people had as their stereotype on Trans-people so far.

She got voted out as the first - the realization of what was expected.
A comment on a Brazilian blog says: “It was idiotic of her to participate in a homophobic program with a homophobic audience.”

And true. After Ariadna had to leave the house, homophobic remarks and mischievousness kept on.

The statement of a Facebook Community created to protest against her early elimination says: “ It is the victory of prejudice, and the general fear of contact with everything that does not conform to that are rules based on nothing.”


Transsexuals and Society - Obliged to Tell?

Year after year around the globe Big Brother Shows are aired and even though the concept is a pretty worn out Big Brother candidates still make it into yellow press pages and web magazines. Since watching people sprawling in a confined space and not doing anything producers came up with the idea to put more exotic and outstanding personalities in the house to provoke scenes of confrontation and surprise.

In 2004 Australian Big Brother producers had the idea to put Miriam Rivera – then a transsexual celebrity - into the house. The concept worked in other countries as well although the expected scenes of surprise and confrontation never ocurred. Probably the audience was simply curious about those mythical beauties.

This year a caramel-skinned belle named Ariadne Thalia appeared in Big Brother Brasil 2011.

Being a transsexual myself, it is not difficult to tell that she is a member of my tribe, but apparently the brazilian public has not been aware of that fact and so still are the other competitors in the BB house.

Now, there is a widespread debate going on in brazilian social networks in the blogosphere whether or not Ariadne is obliged to tell the other ionhabitants of the house about her transsexuality. While amost every blog I read honoures her as a beautiful women with a very female physique – of the kind that most of the men go for.

So far there’s consensus. But is Ariadne really obliged to tell everyone about her biography? This is where the ethical questions start.

“She is fooling everyone, she should not do that”, says one of the comments in one blog.

But why is she fooling anyone since she is not pretending to be something else than she is. She even had undergone sex reassignment surgery in Thailand. So she is definetely more a women than many born ones.

One blogger puts it like this: “Why is a problem that you had once in your life and that is now resolved still obliging you to tell strangers about it? Do you really have to introduce yourself telling everybody that you had suffered from gastroesophageal reflux a couple of years ago?“

Sure not.

But some counter she had modified her body to look a way nature had not made it.

“She is not telling the truth”, says one of her critics.

So given the case a person had been fat but had had a stomach reducing surgery to help her loose weight. Is this now slim and beautiful person obliged to tell everyone that she had bee fat before?

“What distinguishes a former-fat from a former-male?” says a Brazilian blog.

I believe this to be a life long problem of transsexuals. No matter if they have become much more beautiful and feminine than most born female still people feel being lied to. Many individuals (mostly men) even seem to be really proud having been able to spot a transsexual and yell their “discovery” all over the place.

Many blogs dealing with the Ladyboy topic have at least one post on “How to spot a Ladyboy” many of those blogs even seem to only consist of those guidelines.

Sometimes some men even will tell a transsexual right away that they know. The reason behind that behavior will certainly always be secretive to me. Is it because they believe every transsexual is trying to hit on them and to take them home. Or is it their own uncertainness and and paranoia.


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Miss Tiffany Universe 2010

And the winner is...... Number 26!!!

The really cute 19-year old Nalada “Mick” Thamthanakom.

Beauty contests are big events in Thailand. Even the tiniest villages in the North-East send their girls and Ladyboys to participate in beauty pageants in the district capitals on Loi Krathong festival every year.

Most of the Ladyboys in Thailand took at least once part in such a contest.
The idea of these pageants is not exactly only about offering a stage for the most beautiful but for everybody.
I remember standing on the stage of a beauty contest a couple of years ago next to a really fat and old and not so gifted transvestite. I think she even won a price for “nice try”.

Picture: daylife

The organizers of the big Miss Tiffany Universe contest define their show as to promote a positive image of transvestites. And I think they really do. Most of the girls participating come from good families and live decent lives. They are the complete opposite of what most people expect to see when they talk about Ladyboys.
In fact, these pageants are to create “kwaam suk” –happiness. Watching nice people, dressed up in colorful robes, dancing gracefully and saying charming things. People are allowed for one evening to forget about the struggles of their everyday lives and watch young beauties who struggled hard themselves and some of them succeeded.


Relationships with Ladyboys

First of all: Why not? There is no reason why it should not work? After all, in a male-katoey realationship roles are clear. Much clearer than in most marriages.
A comment of our reader Boonsong made me think about this topic. He wrote as a comment on our last post on lyrics about a transsexual girl, that the lyrics of the famous “Lola”-song by The Kinks tell almost the same story. The story of a romance between a man and a transsexual.
So what about TS-male relationships?
Many of my Katoey friends are in long term relationships. Many of them close to the point of marriage if only law allowed it in Thailand, which it does not.
Others play the role of the so called “mia noi”- a kept woman. Having more than one wife is nothing unusual in Thailand, though only one is official. So why shouldn´t it be the same with a “mia noi katoey”?
I am not so sure about the way it works in Western countries. I know some Thai Ladyboys who married men from Europe and North America, but have no clue how they live and of which quality their relationships and their loves are.
The only full story I know is about a Singaporean TS who fell in love with a German guy and married him. They seem to be pretty happy the last time I heard about them.
In my opinion the fact that a Ladyboy lives together with a man has no special negative influence on the relationship. More difficult to overcome are certainly all obstacles that come along with cross-cultural relationships.
In fact, a partnership with a transsexual might see even less troubles than “normal” couples have to experience. I don´t want to divagate too much on my point of view how “advantageous” we are, but the as mentioned in the beginning of this post the clear roles of man and woman make may save trouble.
Most important: Both partners have to suit each other. Many men who are looking for a relationship with a Ladyboy and eventually find one that is seeking the same, forget about the fact, that a working relationship needs a bigger deal in common than just having found a Ladyboy.
Also a short research on the net shows the same dilemma: Many men have only encounters with TS-prostitutes and hence respective experiences and expectations. But who is to blame? Wouldn´t the experiences and expectations be the same if they lived together with a “normal” prostitute? Again they forget that only small percentages are sex workers but of course they are more visible than the rest.
We are living in modern times. The internet allows people to meet each other without borders. Societies become more open and hopefully the legal restrictions will soon fade and marriages with Ladyboys will be normal. Love must be the guideline not ignorance.


Transsexuals are the Talk Of all the USA

Yesterday I tuned randomly to a radio station just in time to listen to "The Talk of All the USA". A song that I´ve never heard before but which made me crack up instantly.

Check out the lyrics:
Julie puts her make up
on her face ev'ry day
she's a woman
yes I know more...
Conclusion: That´s what you get when you operate with "remote controlled hands".

Trans Superstar Miriam Rivera Tribute Music Video

The name of the song is "The secret" and by Sash!

Big surprise: Ladyboys consider themselves as girls

I just found the results of a survey by the Researcher Sam Winter:
He asked 190 Ladyboys to say whether they thought of themselves as men, women, Sao Praphet Song ("a second kind of woman"] or Kathoey.

None thought of themselves as male, and only 11 percent saw themselves as Kathoey (i.e. ‘non-male’).

By contrast 45 percent thought of themselves as women, with another 36 percent as “Sao Praphet Song”.

Unfortunately we did not include the category Phet Ti Saam (third sex/gender); conceivably if we had done so there may have been many respondents who would have chosen that term.

This shows that we have obviously chosen the right name for our blog as it integrates more people than any other term.

The fact that a majority of Ladyboys consider themselves as girls is rather obvious.