“But aren’t all ladyboys prostitutes?” she asked.
I have heard this so many times, from idiots, from educated people, from those who never leave their homes and from world travelers. I dropped my shoulders, and relaxed as hot breaths poured from my lungs.
“No, most ladyboys are not prostitutes.”
“Well I don’t mean all of them, just you know, most of them.” She added.
“No, no not even most of them, just like women, just like men, some of them are prostitutes but by far the majority are not ok with selling their body for money.”
Her head reeled back as her mind exploded with new and contradictory information. “But” she started adding more.
“There are no buts about it, I have met hundreds of ladyboys all over South Asia, from Cambodia to India and almost none of them were prostitutes. The only prostitutes I ever came across were in places like Pattaya, where prostitutes lurk every street, but even there most of the prostitutes were women, not ladyboys.” Like someone with Post traumatic Stress Disorder , my mind shot back to Pattaya, a horrible place, hundreds of girls, boys, and ladyboys all dressed in strips of clothing and tight leather, their hands prodding me from all sides, their voices calling out for me then join them in their bars. I quivered.
She gave a slight nod, as new information sunk into her. “But if they’re not prostitutes, how do they get money?
“They do jobs like everyone else. I have many ladyboy friends. There is Geng, the sweetest person, man woman or otherwise, that I know. She is a pharmacist on Ko Samuai. I know Sui, a screwed business woman who already owns several business and would be rich if she stopped spending money on cars and boys. Wa, Wa is amazing, she’s smarter than me, has her masters in political science and works in an NGO helping refuges.” Their smiling faces flashed through my mind. “If you want to see a ladyboy working, go into any mall in Bangkok, go to where they sell jewelry or perfume, and maybe one out of every three will be a ladyboy.”
“Wow, I’m sorry, I just only heard about ladyboy prostitutes.”
“It’s ok, when I came to Asia, I knew little about ladyboys too, but here they are common, here they are accepted, they are part of life and they fill all the rolls life will give them.