Sky Living’s latest reality series returned to Thailand to follow the lives of the country’s infamous Ladyboys. Revered by some, ridiculed by others, the programme examines how Thailand’s transsexuals – although socially accepted – are still fighting to be legally recognised in their country.
Astonishingly, male-to-female transsexuals make up one percent of Thailand’s population. The documentary’s opener took a sympathetic look at the lives of some transsexuals who gain the acceptance they always craved via fame and public adoration. Below is a clip of Bell Nanthita, a transsexual who became a celebrity overnight after appearing on Thailand’s Got Talent. It wasn’t her looks that caught the public’s attention, but the fact that she sang in both her female and male voice. Forward to a minute in and watch the public’s reaction as they realise Bell’s secret. It is one of complete acceptance. Yet, Thailand still refuses to legally acknowledge gender change. Ladyboys – as they are often referred to – are recognised as male under Thai law, even after undergoing sex change operations. The first episode of the series focused on the story of one post-op M2F transsexual who entered a beauty pageant as a woman using a fake ID. She was subsequently found out and put in a prison with male inmates. The horror of her story highlights the fact that Thai law has not yet caught up with changes in societal attitudes.
The episode ended more positively, with the promise of change as more and more transsexuals are being helped with medical costs and social integration via charities set up by their peers who have gained fame and success. I look forward to tuning in next week and hearing more stories from the Ladyboys and seeing what other progress has been made in their fight for acceptance.
Ladyboys continues on Sky Living on Mondays at 10pm.