‘A world of inspiration‘ enters its 14th week with this wonderful article by Dan Haneveer who hails from Tasmania, Australia. One element of this series that I particularly love is its diversity; featuring people from different backgrounds in various countries around the world. Dan’s article about a Thai Ladyboy is a precious lesson in diversity and acceptance. It accentuates the often hurtful consequences of our prejudices, and teaches us that diversity is something that should be cherished and celebrated.
A Lesson in Humanity from a Thai Ladyboy
In Phuket, Thailand I was enjoying a drink at the bar of choice which just so happened to be staffed by a Kahtoey (a Thai Ladyboy), named Bon. To be honest when I first drank there I didn’t realize she was in fact, a he, all I noticed was an extremely attractive woman. It wasn’t until later after having stumbled across to more seedy Bangla Road that I recognized she was not like the Ladyboys you will see in the Cabarets or selling their bodies on the streets (sois). Her manner was not the same, nor the way she dressed and spoke.
I’m broaching two subjects here that people form very strong opinions about: prostitution and sexuality. Personally I choose not to judge people on either. Did she sell her body? The answer is undoubtedly, yes. Does it really make a difference? Does this make her a lesser person?
My usual seat at the bar was stolen by a family of Australian holiday makers. They were louder than the usual crowd who tended to be expats. It took them a little while but they obviously had a better eye than me because they suspected before being told. It starts with jokes within their own group but eventually they get louder and direct some of them to Bon. She is obviously distressed.
They look at her in a disgusted manner and start to make predictable crude remarks. I look at them with the same disgust and feel somewhat embarrassed to be from the same country. While they can see their comments hurt, it only serves to spur them on and while I’m sure it’s not something new to her, there is only so much she can take before she confronts them and tells them where to go. Her defence only meets with more laughter but they soon tire and move on, I hope to further their education while Bon is left in tears.
We are told to be ourselves and always tell others to do the same, yet often when we are faced with people who don’t fit the usual mould, those values go out the window and they bear the brunt of our prejudices or even our own insecurities. In Thailand, Kahtoeys are not uncommon. Thailand is famous for them and despite a perceived acceptance, they are without doubt social outcasts in the eyes of most Thai. To tourists they are little more than objects for our entertainment.
To me, Bon was just another person, equal but extraordinary, she also turned out to be probably the most genuine I have ever met. She killed many of my own prejudices and opened my eyes to a side of Thailand that, while known to everyone, is either mostly dismissed out of hand or indulged in without examination. Meeting her was a lesson in humanity, respect, judgment and acceptance that I will take with me on all my travels.
About this week’s guest writer
Dan Haneveer is an IT Professional and blogger from Tasmania, Australia. With an itch for adventure and a dream to live abroad, he blogs about his experiences and progress with both at his blog Voyagner.