Photographer's Note

This young male/female transsexual is prepared to take part in the Bung Ban Fai Festival in Roi Et Province. These rocket festivals are very ancient and are basically fertility rites, intended to call for the life-giving rains to come. Many areas of Isarn, the Laotian speaking North-east of Thailand, have such festivals. This one is taking place in Phanom Pai. Each village enters the town, bringing its home made rockets, the women lead, dancing in the traditional dress of their village and the men follow likewise. These transsexuals, however, are accepted perfectly to dance with the women and are treated just like any other village woman. The polite way that Thais use for referring to these male/female transsexuals is “Sow ti prapet ti song” (Ladies of the second sort)

I am always fascinated by the place of transsexuals (katois or ladyboys) in Thai society. I guess that transsexuals exist in any society that permits them to, but in Thailand, what is unusual is the level of social acceptance. They are able to live and find employment openly. Every department store or super market has katois employees; they work as teachers,in hotels, as nurses and in government service. In fact they exist at every level of Thai society. Buddhism, not having the sexual rigidity that some religions do, is tolerant towards them and they fit into the Buddhist idea of rebirth as being, not unnatural, but as a natural occurrence in the rebirth process, as an incomplete transition.

ndb1958, ALIRIZA, vincz, siolaw, dareco, AROBN54, banyanman has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by kevin o'sheehan (kevinos) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1023 W: 173 N: 1802] (7517)
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