Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Just Exactly What Does it Mean to Me?

Not long ago I ran a post and picture of the most recent winner of the famous Thai beauty contest. I had several of you respond with (I paraphrase) that's nice, but what does it mean to me? Well, of course not much and that's why I entitled the post "Eye Candy."

In the comment section of the post, Connie and I began a brief give and take about the subject and the famous (infamous) area of Thailand where the contest is held yearly. She said: "From the article: "The contest, in its 12th year, was held at the Tiffany's nightclub in the Thai seaside town of Pattaya, which is famous for its transvestite cabaret. Like other beauty pageants, contestants paraded in national costumes, evening gowns and swimsuits." 

Transvestite cabarets and parading around are two things that do not make me feel like I am being accepted by society - not how I want to be, anyway."

As luck would have it, I passed through (no pun intended) the little seaside town of "Pattaya" when it was dominated by a big B-52 AFB over forty years ago. Back then, Thailand did have it's share of "lady-boy" bars and "girls" working the streets but then again there were the "Kathoey's" as defined by Wickopedia:
Nong Tum, internationally recognized Thai Kathoey kick boxer. 
"Kathoey or katoey (Thai: กะเทย; rtgsKathoei  [kàtʰɤːj]) is a Thai term that refers to either a transgender woman or an effeminate gay male in Thailand. A significant number of Thais perceive kathoeys as belonging to a third gender, including many kathoeys themselves, while others see them as either a kind of man or a kind of woman.[1] However, when considering transgender women (MtF) as a group in Thai society, most refer to themselves as phuying (Thai: ผู้หญิง "women"), with a minority referring to themselves as phuying praphet song (a "second kind of woman") and only very few referring to themselves as kathoey.[2] Related phrases include phet thi sam (Thai: เพศที่สาม, "third gender"), and sao praphet song or phu ying praphet song (Thai: สาวประเภทสอง, ผู้หญิงประเภทสอง— both meaning "second-type female"). The word kathoey is of Khmer origin.[3] It is most often rendered as ladyboy or lady boy in English conversation with Thais and this latter expression has become popular across Southeast Asia.

It was in Thailand when I first was exposed to the concept of a "third gender."

My only point is. while the glamour queens get all the press (per norm) there are plenty of everyday Thai transgender women struggling to make it in society. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

3 comments:

  1. Wow, that menu is longer than the one at the local Thai restaurant! Some of the dishes are spicier than others too, I imagine. :-)

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  2. We were naive and stupid when we first got there and ordered food "Thai Style" and got positively smoked! Plus I had to try to eat with chop sticks for the first time in front of a whole restaurant full of Thai's...getting laughed at. Such was war.

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    Replies
    1. And that, my dear, is such a wonderful metaphor for transitioning!

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A Life in Gender Flux