When me and my friends walk down the streets of Bangkok and meet other people we are openly admired many times for our beauty. In Thai the word “beautiful” is used in abundance anyway, so when it comes to Ladyboys it is lavished on us generously.
One of the expressions used in this context is “more beautiful than a woman”.
I had never paid to much attention to this particular remark and took it as plain flattery.
Less is more: A natural yet beautiful woman
Yet, when one of us walks down the street sometimes people will murmur to each other: “Is she a real woman?”
For many years I found this most confusing because people always compliment our femininity and beauty. So how can they detect us as transsexual girls?
Two incidents led me to a better understanding of this:
Maybe two years ago I was dressed up rather chic with quite presentable make-up and felt comfortable the way I looked. However, I attracted more attention than usually and felt frustrated, because I was sure that nothing would give my “ladyboyness” away and I asked my female-female friend walking next to me: “Why are people looking at me? What is it?”
She simply replied: “Because you are looking good. Better than anyone around you.”
Still, it did not dawn on me what she meant.
Some months later I went to a party and late in the night a woman I had a conversation with, casually dropped a remark indicating that she knew I was a Ladyboy. Frustrated again I asked: “How could you know?”
She said: “Nothing. You are a perfect woman. I would not have recognized, if you weren’t too beautiful to be a girl.” For a second I found this answer most absurd but during the following days many of the jigsaw pieces fell into place:
All my female-female friends hardly ever apply full make-up, they sometimes have unclean skin, bushy eyebrows, are overweight and have an underdeveloped sense of fashion, whereas none of my Ladyboy sisters would ever allow this to happen to their bodies, as they have been seeking perfection since their early adolescence.
It’s not that we would exaggerate like some stage performers, drag queens etc, with stilt-like high heels, make-up outshining even the most colorful tropical parrot and swishy behavior.
It’s rather that we feel not feminine enough until we have everything perfect but hence make us seem as unreal as photoshopped cover girls of a fashion magazine.
I am still in the process of understanding this, because I feel like having followed the wrong path for too many years and could have avoided many frustrating situations.
But it obviously seems to be true – another occurrence verified it:
There was a meeting of people on a public location to rally for LGBT rights.
When I arrived there was a girl in a pretty dress with flawless make-up and nice hair. I had never met her before but immediately recognized her as a sister of my “tribe” and went to talk to her. Then another girl approached us. She had normal hair, no make-up, simple clothes. She asked: “Is this the Katoey-corner? Then I belong here.” I could not have recognized.
To avoid misunderstandings: I have never been over styled to much and I have been working all my life in regular jobs, mostly without my environment knowing about my being transsexual (only now I understand that it had been because I was wearing simple office dresses).
But recently I started to purposefully “downgrade”. I put on simple earrings, leave half of the make-up away (and feel naked) and jeans and a top seem to be alright, too.
And it works.
Image: flickr/ rexquisite