Monday, March 9, 2015

Traveling Tidbits - #1

I had scheduled this trip a year and a half in advance.  That made since for a lot of reasons.  One of those was that it brought me joy just thinking about my plans to escape it all.  When things weren't interesting, I could imagine more interesting times ahead.  My trip did live up to the dream.

During that time there were two sentiments I often received from various people.  The first was, "Are you still planning that trip?"  It always seemed silly to me.  I stayed on plan from beginning to end.  Why question it?  The other was along the lines of, "Watch out for the ladyboys."

If you've never heard the term, that's what the Thai call male to female transgender people when speaking in English.  The reason for this term is obvious.  Most people there speak a bit of English, but only so many words.  The word they use for a female adult is "Lady", so an adult lady who was once a boy, is a ladyboy.

This concern always puzzled me.  How prevalent do westerners think they are?  What was I to be concerned about?  Is it really so funny?  Let me dispel some myths.

I ran into very few in my daily travels in Thailand, but not zero.  Certainly more than here.  The red light districts were another story.  They had whole bars and go go's staffed by them.  I spent a bit of time with bar girls, and some were ladyboys.

First off, I can tell you that they don't want to trick you into thinking they were born women.  They are not embarrassed to have been born men.  If you're ever in doubt, there is one simple, and sure method of finding out.  You ask them.  No lady or ladyboy there would be offended.  They don't see any reason to be.

As for the number, there are exactly as many people living as transgendered as there are people who wish to be; no more, no less.  It's not a social taboo.  It doesn't conflict with their most common religion.  I asked a few, and more than one told me that they have been living as a female since they were a young child, and told their parents they would rather have a dress.  The parents had no problem with this.

As for the kind of people they are, I can't really say.  All of the one's I met were working in the red light district, so that's probably not a representative sample.  I can say the ones I met were mostly easygoing, and fun people.  I had fun playing pool with them.

And as for female to male transgendered people?  No one mentioned them.  I don't even know if they have a name for them.  I did see a couple, so they are more common there than here.  I guess people just find them less intriguing.

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