Life histories of transpeople in Asia
Note was a participant in questionnaire research undertaken 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 Note’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: 27/8/2002
I was born on 5th June 1985. I turned 17 a couple of months ago.
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. Nevertheless, I believe that in this life I will always live as a ‘phuying praphet song’ (a second kind of woman).
I am ethnic Thai. I grew up in Chiangmai in Northern Thailand, where I still live, work and study. My family is a middle income family. My mother and father separated when I was 5 years old. After that I was raised by my mother. I have no natural brothers or sisters, but now have a younger step brother. He is also becoming a phuying praphet song.
I began to feel different when I was aged 6 years, and realised that I had the mind of a woman (and that I was ‘kathoey’) by the time I was 10. By the age of 10 I was beginning to use words like ‘chan’ that only girls otherwise use. By the time I was 13 I was using ‘ka’ at the end of sentences and phrases, just like girls do. I began to take hormones when I was 13, and dress in girls’ clothes and grow my hair long when I was 16. When I was 17 I had an operation on my nose.
My father was very unhappy about my changing but now he tolerates it. My mother accepted the change from the beginning. I think that Thai people generally have an accepting attitude towards people like me.
I study flower art at a local college, and dance in two cabaret shows each night to support my studies. I have a show at 8pm in a food court, and another at midnight in a bar. I earn around 2750 Baht each month (around US$68).
I think that I am kathoey because of something I was biologically born with; maybe something to do with my karma from a previous life. I am not sure if my parents had anything to do with this, but think that perhaps my stepbrother has influenced me, as well as other relatives and friends.
I am only attracted to men. I guess I am what you would call homosexual; I think any kathoey who is attracted to men is homosexual, as is the man who is attracted to her.
I am quite tall (174cm) and thin (54kg). I guess I am a fairly confident person, and am quite happy with my life. I live with my mother still. I have no boyfriend, and have never had sex in my life.
I would still like to change the way I look. I would like some time to have an operation on my forehead also, as well as a breast operation and operation to change my sex. I am not sure about other operations.
Note, aged 17