That’s not to accuse all ladyboy lovers of being sex tourists, but the harsh reality is that a high percentage of Thailand’s transsexual community work or have worked on the bar scene.
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
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For dating ladyboys globally we recommend joining My Ladyboy Date which has attractive ladyboys in many Asian and Western countries.
- Jun 13 2015 07:43 PM
- by Moo Yung
Ever stop to wonder why so many girls and ladyboys work in bars as bar girls, i.e., prostitutes?
I know a few of you are out there reading this and thinking, "Wait, what? It's because I'm a handsome man, right? After all they tell me that every time I walk down the soi." Well, while veteran ladyboy lovers know this isn't the reason – I know, difficult to believe, right? – it may be good for those new to scene to learn just why the girls have chosen the world's oldest profession.
After all, knowing the motivations behind your temporary bedroom friend/adversary can help you avoid some missteps, as well as providing some empathy and respect – without having to walk a mile in her high heels (which wouldn't be easy, but not for the reasons you might think).
Tolerated Yes. But Accepted? Only to a Point
Before we delve into why, let's explore a tangential aspect of bar girl life in Thailand, one that's often portrayed inaccurately in tourist guidebooks about Thailand. This pertains to bar girls and prostitution in general in Thailand and ladyboys in particular. One often hears that Thai culture is much more tolerant than those of the west – transgendered women, or ladyboys as they are called here, are an accepted part of society, and it also turns a blind eye to prostitution, being more open with regard to sexuality.
This is, to a certain extent, true. But that's not to say that Thai people don't look down their noses at both ladyboys – particularly those in the play for play game – and girls who work in bars. But unlike in the West, where prostitution is seen as much more of a moral issue, in Thailand it's a class issue.
If one is forced to work in a bar and "go with customers," to employ the local vernacular, one is of low economic means, and therefore considered by others to be of a lower class, socially. While there is no caste system here per se, there is a definite social distinction between well-to-do middle class Thai people, the elite rich, and those of little economic means, which here typically means those from rural areas. This is why so many girls who work in bars that cater to foreigners are from Isaan or other rural areas in central or northern Thailand.
This is why you'll hear many rural Thais talk about "Bangkok Thais" with a mixture of envy and disdain.
So your average middle class Thai person living and working in Bangkok may not see anything wrong with a girl or ladyboy from Nong Khai coming to work in a bar in Nana Plaza to support her family back home on the farm. After all, one is expected to take care of one's elder family here.
But that same middle class Thai person isn't going to be inviting that ladyboy to join them for afternoon tea anytime soon. Furthermore, in terms of the social strata, farmers in particular are seen as being on the bottom in Thailand. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in Thai media, where farmers and those raised on a farm are typically portrayed as ignorant and stupid – what we would call rednecks.
Ever wonder why there is such a preoccupation with white skin in Thailand and Southeast Asia in general? Because if you have dark skin that means you must be an uncouth rural denizen forced to labor in a field – most definitely not hi-so.
Sorry Cheap Charlie, I Got Mouths to Feed. Really
Which brings us to the primary reason the girls and ladyboys we love work in bars: most of them have families to support. It may seem strange to a Western foreigner, but in this deeply traditional Buddhist culture, children are expected to take care of their parents and grandparents, including financially. There is no social safety net here; a family's children are the elders' safety net.
Bear in mind too that the average farm family in Thailand makes $3,600 a year (U.S. Dollars, according to 2008 United Nations survey). Granted, the cost of living in Thailand is much less than in the West, but still, Thai farmers ain't getting rich; there's no such thing as a gentleman farmer here. In fact most are debt these days, because of the cost of fertilizer and recent natural disasters like the floods that plagued Thailand a few years back.
So ask any girl working in a bar where she's from and the odds are good it will be from rural Thailand, commonly somewhere in Isaan. Ask her why and the answer will often be two-fold. First, she's helping support her family back home. Often times the older siblings will go to work to put the younger ones through school as well – this is particularly true of ladyboys, who still have fewer prospects in the workforce, even with a degree, than a younger brother or sister.
Furthermore, for a girl from a poor rural family who can't afford her to send her to university, working in a bar in Bangkok or Pattaya -- among many friends and making more money than she could back home -- while avoiding the backbreaking work of rice farming, is an appealing alternative. Slog away day after day in the hot, muddy fields of Phitsanulok or dance in an air-conditioned go-go in Pattaya, going out partying with your friends afterwards? An easy choice for many girls.
Sure there are a few girls out there who aren't doing it because they have to support their family financially, but because they enjoy the lifestyle and the easy money. But the vast majority of them are in the former category: they are the primary breadwinners for the folks back home.
So keep that in mind the next time you get annoyed that a girl is pestering you for a lady drink or balks at your low-ball offer for a short-time price. She may literally have mouths to feed.
And when you're doing the so-called walk of shame back to your hotel? Grow some balls and turn it into the walk of fame. Take her hand and show her – and more importantly, let her show other Thais – that you aren't ashamed to be seen with her. Your lady, be she GG or ladyboy, will appreciate it – she likely comes from the bottom rung of the social ladder, after all.
Written by: Ladyboy Lust
- Apr 04 2014 08:33 PM
- by Ladyboy Lust