A ratio of 10% to 20% of boys calling themselves transsexual in a provincial high school does seem very high, but Mr Sitisak assured me that in his experience it was not unusual.
Which brought up a question that has been rattling around my head ever since I first lived in Thailand seven years ago: Why do so many Thai men want to become women?
I asked Suttirat Simsiriwong, who became a campaigner for transgender rights after she was barred entry to a nightclub at an international hotel in Bangkok last year.
Poised, articulate and very feminine, it is hard to tell that she was not born a woman.
"Maybe the numbers of gays, of people with sexual identity issues, might be the same as in other countries," said Suttirat, "but because Thai society and culture tend to be very sweet, very soft, and the men can be really feminine, if we tend to be gay, many of us tend to be transgender."
So does this sound right to you?
Thai culture, makes it easier for transgenders to "come out" and express themselves?
Or is it a case that they see it as a way out to avoid their masculinity ?
Or perhaps they want to belong in a group, have a sense of identity ?
Teenage rebelling /phase they are going through ?
Thais tell me 20 years ago the ladyboy phenomonen was almost non-existant. It is a modern trend.
Perhaps it is just a type of show off "fashion"
10-20% seems disproportionately high.
Edited by sgtpeppers, 2008-07-30 11:37:14.