Friday, June 3, 2011

Lady (Boy) Luck

Thailand is one of the most tolerant Asian countries I have visited. It could be the Buddhist culture...but from rent boys to lady boys...they seem to let anything go here...live and let live. Lady Boys (trannies) are very prevalent in society. They are in the shops, at reception at my hotel, in commercials and even in movies. I’ve seen a number of guys wearing make up - no biggie here. No drama. There is even a tranny politician.

I’m in awe of the tolerance level in Bangkok...very rare for many Asian countries. Even in many progressive societies, the issues surrounding gender can polarize people. There is a case in Canada where a child is being raised in no gender - progressive? child abuse? the jury is still out. What about little boys who dress up as little girls?

Gender is the first label we are exposed to - boys wear blue and girls wear pink. Boys play with trucks and soldiers and girls with dolls and tea sets. What happens when boys want to play with dolls? and girls with trucks? Or a boy wants to wear dresses?

My nephew has been ‘cross dressing” for more than a year. He likes wearing his sister’s clothes and is obsessed with Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. He likes pretty much anything glittery. My brother and his wife are very progressive and allow him to wear what makes him happy (he does have fabulous style - after his uncle). I took him shopping once at the GAP and he immediately went into the girl’s section. The sales lady looked confused - and other parents were giving him weird looks, wondering if he was a little girl or boy.

I could not help but wonder how things have changed in 20 years. When I was little, I wanted to play with dolls. I wanted to have a tea set. But I had two brothers (no sisters at all) and little boys could not play with dolls. I never thought I was born in the wrong gender or wanted to be a girl, although I did use to roll a towel around my head and pretend I was Miss Universe - but that’s a whole another story.

The society I grew up was not accepting of any variations to gender or sexuality - it would take them years to come to accept being “gay.” I do not think they would be ready for gender reassignment - not that I think my nephew will become a niece anytime soon - not that would be an issue.

I do have a friend who is male but has started dressing as female (he looks better as a female) and is making the transition - no surgery plans yet. He’s struggling with his dual identity - work and friends. He came out as a gay man, but I think he feels like he’s coming out again - this time as a female.

I find it hard enough trying to figure out who I am as a man - can’t imagine how to sort out if I’m a female too.

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