The Bangkok ladyboys that you see hanging around in, or working in, the main tourist centres of the city are similar in many ways to the Thai girls that you will find there but with some important distinguishing aspects that you should consider... okay, I’m not talking about the physical differences in anatomy; I’m talking more about the factors that bring these ladyboys to be working in the tourist areas in the first place.
To help you to understand a ladyboy, and anyone else for that matter, you are well advised to try to get an idea of the particular set of every day problems that they face. In Thailand you’ll find that when a person puts themselves in the position of looking for romance, or casual relationships with foreign tourists, it is usually the case that a difficult set of financial problems have played an important part in bringing them to that position. When it comes to financial problems, Bangkok ladyboys have got a lot of extra baggage and I’ve no doubt that this accounts for a large part of the over-representation of ladyboys working in red-light areas. To give an idea of the extra strains that they face, here are a few of the issues that they have to deal with...
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Ladyboys assume the female responsibility of taking care of their parents. I wrote about this in my ‘Culture Gap’ section and it’s worth a recap; there is no effective state retirement provision for the elderly and traditionally most Thais have not been able to save money for their retirement. This being the case, the children take care of their parents. The women look after their own parents, the men look after the parents of their wives. Unmarried men are off the hook somewhat, but not ladyboys.
Ladyboys can not give birth to children and so there will be nobody to take care of them in their old age. This problem is compounded because their inability to have children also makes it rare for Thai men to stay with ladyboys on a permanent basis (their parents want grandchildren and pressure them to marry a lady). The lack of a permanent man in a ladyboy's life means no long-term support from a husband.
They are less likely than girls to find a foreign man that will take them back to their own country as a permanent partner. This is due to the extra stigma attached to transsexual people in other countries. There is already a stigma attached to being with a Thai lady, but being with a Thai ladyboy would be too much shame for most westerners to bear.
There are expensive medical procedures and treatments to pay for. Breast implants, hip implants, nose and jaw restructuring, vocal chord tightening, gender reassignment and other surgical procedures in Thailand are cheap by western standards, but they are still expensive. Many Bangkok ladyboys have paid upwards of 100,000 baht for relatively minor operations. The few that have undergone major operations have had to pay much more. Add to this the ongoing cost of hormonal treatment and you arrive at a costly amount.
The limited prejudices about transsexuals that do exist in Thailand stop many of them from getting good jobs. This is a big problem that almost all Bangkok ladyboys complain about; even getting an interview, regardless of what qualifications are held, is very difficult.
Accepting that there are some significant extra financial strains on
Bangkok ladyboys, where does that leave my dating advice in relation to
those that work in the red-light areas? Well, I could argue that since
their extra financial hardship is real, there is a greater likelihood
that they are more or less forced to work there and would, therefore, be
more likely to relish the chance to quit the red-light areas altogether
if the opportunity came along. Unfortunately, this misses the point.
The problem is that, regardless of why a person is working in the nightlife industry, once the lifestyle takes hold it becomes very difficult to break away from. This is as true for ladyboys as it is for bar-girls and you really should not get into anything serious with someone that has worked in this industry. Don’t go thinking that you can ‘save’ someone from this because, as unfortunate as it is, the track record in this area speaks for itself…. only a tiny minority of such relationships survive!
I think that the online dating option is even more appropriate here than it is with Thai girls. With girls the very best option is to find one in Thailand somewhere away from the tourist areas; with ladyboys you might not be able to find one, or you might not know one when you see one! My advice is to sign up with my recommended dating site and start from there.
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