“A voice that changes is a voice that comes straight from the Heart”

“For me, a ladyboy can be over-feminine, but I want to be a normal lady. I use less make-up, I learn how to walk, to sit, to eat, to act, like a normal lady.”~ Nok Yollada from Thailand

How can I not feel that someone who works this hard and yearns this much to be a normal lady ought to be rewarded with her wish coming true?

Ladyboys are men who use hormones and/or surgery to become females. Unlike in England, transgenders in Thailand cannot have their gender indication in official IDs, such as a passport, changed from “male” to “female”.

On a separate note, the Australian government has, since last September, added “X” as one of the gender indications in an Australian passport, beside “F” for female and “M” for male. The “X” is an option to indicate ” indeterminate/unspecified/intersex” gender status of a passport applicant.

In addition, according to the Australian Passport Office, “A full validity passport in a new sex may also be issued to applicants who have undergone sex reassignment surgery and have registered their change of sex with Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages (RBDM) or the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).”

In Asia, after working tirelessly with the government, Nepalese LGBTI (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex) activists can finally celebrate upon the announcement of categorising the community’s gender on official IDs as “others”, by the Nepalese Ministry of Home Affairs. This move has made the country the third in Asia to recognise sexual minorities, after India and Bangladesh.

Back to Thailand, “ladyboys new documentary episode 1 of 6” reveals some truths about the transgenders in Thailand that we may or may not have known. Sometimes, it’s getting to know more about a subject, from all angles if possible, before deciding if we want to react to it or not, and if we want to, how do we react to it?

Nok Yollada, who is in the jewellery retail business, has her own shopping channel on TV. She is one of the rare few Thai transgenders who has made it big. I think this is not the main point, even among non-transgenders, only a rare few really made it big anyway. In Thailand, success means acceptance. Seeing herself as “a competitive working woman”, Nok is nonetheless still very much disturbed by and indignant about the fact that the gender indicated on her official ID remains as “male”.

By the age of 19, Nok had garnered numerous crowns emerging as the winner in half of the no less than 100 beauty pageants for trans girls that she took part in. Aspired to win in a real female beauty pageant, she had a fake ID made, in order to enter the pageant, and she won! Unfortunately, she was caught and put to jail, and mind you, a men’s jail, for lying about her gender. To me, if she had already undergone a sex-change surgery before the pageant, she had not lied, perhaps I could only say, she did not reveal her original gender.

Nok enjoyed a brief pop stardom as a member of an all-trans girl band, but she didn’t like the idea of using band members’ gender as a gimmick to attract audience. She believes in becoming a genuine female as she firmly speaks out, “the transsexual female is an ordinary female, who unfortunately born in a wrong, boy body.”

Apparently, she has strived to “match her body and her soul”. With much success in doing so, she is now set to help other transgenders to do the same. One of the many avenues to render help, big or small, be it for over-feminine ladyboys or normal transgender ladies, is the establishment of the Trans Female Association of Thailand.

A sex-change surgery carries a hefty 5,000-British Pound price tag in Thailand. But it is not always the case about money, at least for Belle Nuntita, her greatest heart-ache is probably her father’s rejection of her and how he thought it was insanity for a boy to behave and think like a girl.

Belle has made a name for herself with her sweet voice at Thailand’s Got Talent. The new face at Sony Music has cut her first album and is busy singing to huge cheering crowds to promote it. Will the novelty wear out soon? Will Belle be another pin-up doll of the same gimmick? I don’t know.

Legal recognition is one thing, equal rights and acceptance is another thing, then respect is yet one more thing.

I share Belle’s MV of her song เสียงที่เปลี่ยน Siang Tee Bplian (A Voice that Changes) here with you, ask yourself, would it make a difference to you between knowing and not knowing Belle’s initial gender?