Life histories of transpeople in Asia
Nadia was a participant in questionnaire research conducted by Winter and others around 2002. Her account here combines material from that questionnaire with additional material from an interview conducted in Thai, and is passed on by Sam Winter. This is the first of several instalments that we hope will build up Nadia’s story as she grows older.
Copyright Sam Winter to whom requests for reproduction and dissemination falling under copyright laws must be made
First instalment: 8/6/2002
I was born on 27th August 1985. Currently I am 16 years old.
I was born male but think of myself as a woman. I would prefer to be a real woman and, if I had a chance to start life again, would want to be born as one. I believe that in this life I will always live as a woman.
My real name is Chin Si Wong. I am ethnic Chinese, with a little Thai. I grew up in a middle income family in Bangkok. I have two elder sisters (aged 26 and 20) and an elder brother (aged 23). The oldest sister does nothing (she has problems with her life), but the brother sells shoes and the youngest sister sells cosmetics, our family business.
I began to feel different when I was aged 6 years. I enjoyed playing with my sisters more than my brother, and liked girlish things. I realised that I was a kathoey quite early. My parents, brother and sisters, teachers and classmates all realised quite early that I was different from other boys. They were all comfortable with my difference. Indeed, my sisters thought it was fun to have a younger sister.
By the age of 13 I was beginning to use words like ‘ka’ and ‘chan’ that only girls otherwise use. And by the time I was 15 I was beginning to feel that I have the mind of a woman. It was around that time that I began to take hormones to change my body, dress in girl’s clothes and grow my hair long.
My father and mother accepted that I was making the change; nowadays I would even say they encourage me. Actually, I think that Thai people generally have an accepting attitude towards people like me.
My parents were not happy together. My father was a ‘butterfly’ and played around with lots of women. My parents split up about a year ago. Suddenly I realised that I needed to drop out of secondary school and work to help support my mother, as well as pay for my hormones. One of my elder sisters and brother have jobs, but they bring in very little money themselves.
I started by helping out with the family business (selling cosmetics). But I found that this didn’t bring in enough money. So two months ago I started working at a bar in Bangkok. I like working there. It’s fun. I have moved out from the family home, and share an apartment with another kathoey who works at my bar. Her name is Anna; she is like my big sister.
I think that I am kathoey because of something I was biologically born with. I believe that it is because of the karma I was born with. I don’t think that anyone – parents, brothers and sisters, other relatives, or friends – had anything to do with what I became.
I am only attracted to men, and I guess I am what you would call homosexual. Or maybe not --- maybe a kathoey who is attracted to men is actually heterosexual. I guess a man who is attracted to kathoey may be bisexual.
I am quite a confident person, and am quite happy with my life. I tend to worry a bit though, and think I am only a moderately attractive girl. I have a small and feminine body. I am just 163cm tall and weigh 47kg.
I would like to have an operation to change the shape of my nose, as well as to give me breasts. But I am not sure if I would like other operations, either to remove my Adam’s Apple, or to change the shape of my forehead or chin. And I would certainly never have silicone injections to my hips or thighs.
One day I want to have a sex change so that I can be a real woman. Perhaps I can also buy my own house and a car. I don’t have a boyfriend, and I’m not particularly worried if I don’t have one.
Perhaps one day I would quite like to go back to school to study language.
Second instalment, 9/9/2003
Nadia continues to work in a bar. she has now had breast implants and sex reassignment surgery. She is 17 years old.
Nadia, aged 16