Manual Lady boys, tom boys, rent boys: male and female homosexualities in contemporary Thailand

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  3. Lady Boys, Tom Boys, Rent Boys Male and Female Homosexualities in Contemporary Thailand

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American Psychologist, 55 , — CrossRef Google Scholar. Google Scholar. Bondyopadhyay, A. Strapped for cash? Cameron, L. Sexual health and rights. Chaiyo Nithiubat. Chaloemphol Thammasunthorn. Chantalak Raksayu. Cook, N. Cook Eds. Chiang Mai, Thailand: Silkworm Books. Costa, L. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press.

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Department of Mental Health. Gordon, R. Ethnologue: Languages of the world 15th ed.

Herder, T. Sexual rights and stigma: Social support for male sex workers in Chiang Mai. Jackson, P. Thai research on male homosexuality and transgenderism and the cultural limits of Foucaultian analysis. Journal of the History of Sexuality, 8 1 , 52— PubMed Google Scholar. A panoply of roles: Sexual and gender diversity in contemporary Thailand. Sullivan Eds. Janjira Bunprasert. Transgendered people [The human rights of transgendered people, case of using titles].

Luhmann, N.

Mr Parinya outpointed Mr Pongsak in the fight although he suffered a slight cut to the left eyelid. Fight picture, Parinya, The Nation , p. What is newsworthy here is that a young man wearing make up should subscribe to what has traditionally been a man's domain, the homosocial world of boxing, in which masculinity is consolidated through the grouping of men together in the unity of gender sameness. I will give him a big lesson so that he will learn Thai boxing is the game of a real man. Most women can't do that.

Sometimes even men can't do it,' the spectator said. Perhaps, unable or unwilling to trust this new 'truth', the news reports appeared more concerned with Parinya's performance, than with the fact that he had won the fight. Parinya willingly played to his new fans: 'Pretty' pugilist an overnight sensation Parinya, clearly enjoying his new-found fame, was looking forward to his next match, and those into the future with some trepidation. I just don't want to hurt him,' the boxer said. Yet that hardly appeared the case on Tuesday when the considerably good looking Oven Bunma took a battering from the dolled up Parinya, who unleashed a fierce combination of hooks, uppercuts, kicks and flying elbow attacks on his opponent.

It didn't help the dazed Oven's ego when Parinya waltzed over to him on the final bell and gave him a light peck on the cheek. He would have been undone. But I suggest that the dilemma was greater for the boxing regulators, who had been 'won over' by Parinya's tears and had allowed him to keep his underwear on during the pre-fight weigh in; for to insist that Parinya undress would have exposed his masculinity and shattered the cultural stereotype that kathoey are not 'real' men. Like his Filipino or Indonesian counterpart the bakla or waria respectively , the Thai kathoey is feminised with unspoken but strict rules governing his behaviour.

Thus the male kathoey is expected to adopt traditional forms of address reserved for women such as the first person pronoun chan instead of pom , or the sentence particle kha instead of khrap , dress in female clothing, and generally perform femininity. Because of poverty, Parinya had to box at a very tender age to earn money for the family despite his homosexual inclinations. But as Peter Jackson notes, the kathoey, in enacting femininity in feminine spaces, reinforces the gender system. However, the appearance of Parinya in the boxing ring, performing kathoey sporting external signs of femininity at least but demanding room in a male space clearly troubled normative gender boundaries.

Wit noticed the clippings. Wit explained that he uses faen a non-gender marked term when referring to his boyfriend in Thai but he prefers 'my boyfriend' to 'my lover' when speaking English. For him, boyfriend is more direct and explicit while 'lover' he associates with promiscuity, a bit of extra on the side chuu in Thai. I am not suggesting here that Wit is in anyway reluctant to name his sexuality in Thai: 'My mother calls me kathoey [as] that is the word she knows. My nephews and nieces call me toot ' from the film Tootsie.

Rather, Wit prefers to select his moments and in some instances, he deliberately marshals his first language to challenge stereotypes about gender, as in the following riposte which mixes feminine pronouns and sentence particles with masculine attributes: chan pen phuchai, na ya. But while terms like gay, gay king and gay queen have been appropriated and re-invented into the Thai vernacular, they lack coherence and mean different things to different people.

For some, gay has been used as a label for 'modern' and 'egalitarian' homosexuality through a process of stigma transformation; for others, the word has become a euphemism for men who are homosexually penetrated. The play is about avoiding stereotypes and rigid categories of exclusion and inclusion. Yim, another self-identified gay man, resisted the notion that he had to be either 'active' or 'receptive' ie. For him, gay means exclusive sexual relations with other men and being able 'to do everything.

The point to keep in mind here is that while gay has been appropriated into the Thai vernacular, it does not necessarily reproduce the gay-straight binary of Western discourse. Rather, gay in Thailand is often deployed as a mechanism to disengage from the label kathoey and its feminine association - I am not a kathoey. As such it is a performative term that disrupts the binary male-female opposition and short-circuits accepted beliefs about masculinity.

Similarly, other terms deployed by homosexually active Thai men like seua bai ['bi-tigers' or bisexual men], queen or king are not identity laden terms but performative and their usage denotes behaviours in these situations; homosexuality is what you do and not who you are. More recently, the group have adopted the expression ying rak ying [women who love women]. As group co-founder, Anjana Suvarnananda, explained that 'lesbian' is seen as a loaded term because of its association with pornography and its misappropriation into the erotic fantasies of Thai men.

The terms tom-dee , from tomboy and lady respectively, are also favoured by some Thai women to name their sexual orientation and are also performative in nature: Previously the terms tom-dee were self-constructed and neutral. Thai society will accept the two binary opposites and tom-dee are the engagement of this.

In this construction, the dee's femininity is not hurt - it stays up. The tom on the other hand is a form of resistance in that the tom is saying she will not play the submissive and inferior Thai women, that she is equal to men The tom served [in the past] as a technique to attract other women when no other forms of seduction were available.

In this sense, tom-dee is an erotic play that serves both private and public spheres. Eve Segewick calls this a privilege of unknowing for 'in the theatrical display of an already institutional ignorance no transformative potential is to be looked for. I conclude that while Thailand lacks the extreme homophobia ingrained in many Western societies, sanctions against homosexuality do exist and there is a definite delay in applying stigmatised labels to oneself.

It would also deny Thai lesbians and gay men agency within these cultural and situational resources. Rather, I support the views of Thongtiraj who has argued: '[That] Thai women in same-sex relationships are creating their own terms and concepts to contest their identities reveals that lesbianism is not a Western import, but very Thai. What would it mean to acknowledge that 'gay' and 'lesbian' does not signify 'a people' but a 'sometimes behaviour?

For others, same-sex encounters typically comprise only one portion of their sexual wardrobe; gender and sexuality do not necessarily follow from desire. For many Asians, the notion of 'coming out' as a means of breaking the silence around homosexuality is a 'very white model.

Lady Boys, Tom Boys, Rent Boys

In this context, the Rajabhat Teachers College ban may be seen as an attempt to counter public discussions of homosexuality and not as an attempt to suppress Thailand's 'burgeoning and diverse sexual subcultures. The manner in which Thai lesbians and gay men are re-assigning their own meanings to, and in some cases, rejecting Western terms to describe their homosexuality, is a reminder that Western perspectives hold no privilege. I have argued that for Thai men and women, gay-identification is constrained by a gender-role ascendancy that maintains the notion of 'real' men versus submissive women, 'second type of women' [kathoey] or effeminate men, but that this regulation conceals the discontinuities that pervade Thai transgender, gay and lesbian contexts.

I would like to thank all the Thai men and women who gave of their time to inform the research and who agreed to openly discuss their lives. I would also like to thank Dr. Peter A. In Bangkok, as many as fifty commercial venues are located throughout the city. These include go-go bars, saunas and gyms offering massage services, karaoke bars, male escort services, and clubs that offer a range of services, one of which may be commercial sex.

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Lady Boys, Tom Boys, Rent Boys Male and Female Homosexualities in Contemporary Thailand

Publisher: Silkworm Books , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis This book explores Thailand's diverse sexual population, from kathoeys or "lady boys" transsexual or transvestite males and tom boys masculine lesbians to male sex workers who service male clients.