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While Thailand is somewhat understanding and sympathetic towards its third gender, ladyboys still carry around a certain stigma; usually seen as second class citizens. Somewhat regardless of education, wealth, and social standing, finding employment can be a challenge for a ladyboy in Thailand. Many ladyboys from the poorer regions see prostitution as a legitimate career option, heading for the bright neon lights of Phuket, Bangkok, and Pattaya, at the earliest possible age (often scarily young). Many do so with the blessings and even encouragement of their family. Some ladyboys try to take a different path, gain education or look for respectable employment, but find it too challenging and give in to the ‘easy money’ available in the bars.
Not everyone who dates a ladyboy sex worker sets out to do so. Some guys will meet their ladyboy lover by chance, or find their new girlfriend online, but if you do find yourself falling for a ladyboy from the bar scene you’ll likely face some will face some common problems..
Thailand doesn’t have an outstanding education system. More and more Thais are going to university and getting a formal education, and if you spend time in the ‘real’ Thailand you will meet some very smart and innovative people, but in general Thailand’s sex workers have very little schooling, with some starting work in the bars and brothels of the country as young as 13/14.
Many of the ladyboy sex workers you’re likely to meet will be from Thailand’s Esaan region, along with many of the Northern Thais and those from Laos and Myanmar, the ladyboys from these areas are typically sent to work in the bars barely able to read and write in Thai let alone speak English or deal with financial responsibilities. What happens instead is that they typically get taught how to work the bars from those with more experience, getting what you could call a ‘bar education.’
No matter how sweet, young, and pretty your new ladyboy girlfriend looks, don’t assume she’s had a similar education to you. Most will have been taught to look at foreigners primarily as ‘customers’, and while they may call you their one true love and even act like you are their soul mate, there’s is a strong chance she’s acting on her bar instincts rather than form the heart. That’s not to say to dismiss such actions and feelings as being a game, but certainly treat it with a little caution and common sense.
Money number one
People joke about Thai sex workers saying first they love money, then they love their family, then comes the King, then Buddha, after that it’s their smart phone, then the family Buffalo, and finally their foreign boyfriend. It’s tongue-in-cheek but there is an element of truth to it.
There’s an obvious culture gap between Thais and westerners and this can be exaggerated further when the Thai has had less education. Many Thai’s find it difficult to connect on a deeper level to those who are not Thai. They have extremely high respect for their king and religion, but they generally aren’t the best people at understanding or sympathising with those culturally different from themselves or adapting to change. In many ways their loyalty and unquestionable love and respect towards family, the monarchy, religion, and their country is something to be admired, but when trying to build a relationship with a Thai it can be hard for some Westerners to accept not being the centre of someone’s life, with money, family, and other things being seen as more important.
Remember, the vast majority of ladyboy sex workers are try to make money for their families. Thai’s are generally very close to their family and that bond can be even stronger when you are a ladyboy whose family have been very supportive. You’ll often find even those whose parents have been less than understanding see it their first priority to make sure their family are sent as much money as possible each and every month. If you’re the new boyfriend you’re main duty will be to take care of your ladyboy girlfriend and her family, financially. It may not be spelled out so obviously (though often it is), but if you can’t meet the required financial support needed than this is likely to be a big issue.
Most ladyboy bar workers are under pressure to send money home. They may want to have a serious relationship with you but there’s a good chance they’ll still need financial support, with pressure to constantly send money back home. Even if they have worked the bar scene for some time and already helped their parents to a comfortable life, it’s often the case that their regular money transfers back home are now relied upon. Mum and Dad may have a brand new car but there is an uncle who needs help with his gambling debts and a brother who is unable to support his young wife and 3 children, and guess what, the ladyboy sibling with the new farang boyfriend will be expected to solve every financial problem.
You can take the girl out of bar, but..
..you can’t take the bar out of the girl. Again, it’s often said with some jest or cynicism, but the truth is many ladyboys who are brought up in and around the bar scene find it very hard to completely leave it behind.
Yes, many ladyboys who start working in Thailand’s bars do so with a dream of finding a Westerner who’ll take care of them financially, but that doesn’t always give them what they really want.
This is more of a personal view, but I do believe most of the Thai ladyboys who work among the bars want to find a loving relationship and someone to take care of them, but through leaving home and living the ‘bar life’ they also gain a sexual freedom and financial independence. Add to this the constant flattery and attention many now get through social media and it’s a life they can quickly get used to. From my experience and observations many of those who genuinely want to build a relationship with a westerner usually find it very difficult to live without their sexual and financial freedom, and either struggle to be loyal or find themselves drawn back to the bar scene they were once trying to escape.
If you do take a ladyboy away from the bar scene you’re real challenge will be helping her find something healthy and meaningful to build her life around. You’ll need to give her lots of attention and financial freedom, help her gain a new form of independence, and give her lots of positive attention.
Can it work?
While there’s a lot of stereotyping and generalizations going on here, I’ve based a lot of this on what I’ve actually seen and heard. This isn’t to put anyone off starting a relationship with a ladyboy who has been a sex worker, it’s simply to show you some of the typical challenges that lay ahead.
Having a relationship with a Thai will be a challenge, and doing so with one who has worked in a bar will only add to the hurdles and obstacles you’re likely to face. The worst way to enter such relationships is to do so blindly. So by all means go for it, but do so with knowledge, understanding, and a positive attitude.
Written by: Moo Yung
For the dating ladyboys in Thailand we recommend joining Thai Friendly which has hundreds of Thai ladyboys listed.
For dating ladyboys globally we recommend joining My Ladyboy Date which has attractive ladyboys in many Asian and Western countries.
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