and this one is Nong Poy, the winner of the international version of Miss Tiffany in 2004 who is now a TV drama actress
In most of societies, homosexuals and transgenders are very much frowned upon but not in Thailand. In Thailand transgenders are known as either "kathoey" or "ladyboy". Transgenders enjoy acceptance and much more respect in Thailand than their counterparts elsewhere. Why is this so ? Studies conducted on this have concluded that tolerance towards transgenders in Thailand could be attributed to Buddhism.
(1) Throughout the Theravada Buddhism 'Tipitaka', from the beginning right to the end, there are many references as to what or who are deemed good or bad but there was no mentioned at all on homosexuals. This could imply that the proper behaviour of heterosexuals and homosexuals are to be judged on the same basis. In other words, both groups are to be treated as "equal". The Tipitika recognizes 4 sexes. In addition to male and female, there are two other genders namely " ubhatobyanjanaka " and "pandaka".
The term "ubhatobyanjanaka" has different interpretations within the Tipitika but generally it refers to hermaphrodite.
The Pali-English dicitionary - describes "ubhatobyanjanaka" as "having the characteristics of both sexes, hermaphrodite"
A reformist Thai writer Phra Ratchaworamuni describes "ubhatobyanjanaka" as "being with the genital organs of both sexes"
Bunmi Methangkun, head of the traditionalist Abhidhamma Foundation in Thailand considers the physchological factors in his intepretations. He describes two types of hermaphrodite namely
" itti-ubhatobyanjanaka" ( physically female but physically attracted to another woman ) and "purisa-ubhatobyanjanaka" ( physically male but physically attracted to another man )
Like "ubhatobyanjanaka", the term "pandaka" also has different interpretations by different writers but the basic concept appears to be that of a deficiency in male sexual capacity. Subsequently, the denotation of the term appears to have expanded to incorporate notions of non-normative male sexuality. Pandaka may be derived from anda, which variously means `egg' or `testicle' in Pali, and probably originally denoted male reproductive deficiency or incapacity. The Pali-English dictionary describes "pandaka" as "a eunuch".
In Thailand both "ubhatobyanjanaka" and "pandaka" have been translated as "kathoey (ladyboy)"
(2) Buddhists believe in Karma. where we are reborn into a type of being that is based on our past deeds. Kathoeys are thought to be predetermined from birth as the direct result of karma. Being born as something as a result of past actions / deeds is not perceived to be due to one's fault. Therefore it is not the fault of Kathoey to be born as Kathoey and they should be treated with compassion.
The above two reasons will probably best explain why transgenders are accepted and respected in Thailand. Though like their counterparts in other countries, many kathoeys in Thailand join the sex industry but there are as many who are successful in other industries such as entertainment, beauty and fashion. A number of movies have been made on the kathoeys in Thailand but interestingly they were potrayed positively in those movies rather than the stereotype roles of prostitutes or undesirable characters. As much as they want to be recognised as women, many are willing to leave their "feminity" to enter the monkhood to make merit for their parents. Once there, they will wear what the rest of the male monks wear.
In a school in Thailand, the Kathoeys even have their own toilets ( separated from the girls and boys toilets )
Some transgenders have undergone sex-change operation but many have not but everyone would agree that most of them like real women and even more beautiful than some real women. It is not easy to distinguish a kathoey from a woman in Thailand but you won't be laughed at if you fail to do so. Just take a look as the following photos. Hard to believe that they were born as boys.
Everyone in the photos are kathoeys and they are the contestants for Miss Tiffany Universe 2010, a pageant meant for them and all of them are Thais.
And this one ( above video ) , Nong Toom is the most famous ladyboy in Thailand. She was a boxer who fought with real male boxers. A movie based on her was made in 2003.
This is the trailer of the award winning movie "Beautiful Boxer" which was based on her life