“Ladyboys’’ in Burma and Thailand Life Realities


Burma has four classes of citizens: Monks are considered first-class citizens, men are considered second-class citizens, women and nuns are seen as third-class citizens, and finally, ladyboys are seen as fourth-class citizens. Most Myanmar ladyboys have not fully undergone a sex change operation, but in their clothing, personality, and behavior are more like a woman than a man. They are different from transsexuals, because they still have the male genitals.

Ladyboy show tickets are divided into two categories:

A- ticket, including ladyboy performances and strip dance; B- including ladyboy performances with crocodiles or “elephant show”. They also sell some souvenirs near pagodas or temples to make a living. You can also pay money to touch parts of their bodies, such as their breasts. There are also some who work in the Prostitution insdusty.

A Ladyboy’s life and artistic career is very short; only averaging a life expectancy of 35-40 years.

The life of a ladyboy can generally be divided into 3 cycles, or stages: The first is the growth stage which encompasses those who are 18 years old or younger. This stage is important for their feminine development, while their bodies are growing at the same time. During this stage they also must begin their arts training.  The second stage is the peak period (18-25 years), when ladyboys will get a lot of stage performance opportunities and will also make highest salaries.  The third is 26 years old or older.  This stage in the life of the labyboy is equivalent to an average person over the age of 55.

Most ladyboys are from poor families. Either their parents force them to become ladyboys or sell them to a “ladyboy school”. Some are trying to make money of their family and they are willing to become a ladyboy in order to support them. Some of them live in an environment full of drugs, prostitution, and gangs. After they sign the contract, they have sold themselves and no longer have the ability to make their own decisions until the troupes think they are too old to use.

(Shuo Lin)

4 thoughts on ““Ladyboys’’ in Burma and Thailand Life Realities

  1. Your blog is very interesting! Before I read this blog, I only know a bit of information about ladyboys. I have seen their performances. I just know they can attract more tourists to visit and visitors can see their performances. I also know they are from poor families and they must control their daily diet. Through reading your blog, I really know ladyboys don’t have better life. They have lower status in Burma and Thailand. They have to earn more money to save their lives. In your blog, you talk about four classes of citizens in Burma and their lifestyles of different stages. I know they can make more money in 18-25 years old, but their career is very short. In my opinion, I think this job is not very good and I can’t accept this job, but some of them don’t have the right to choose their own life because some areas are poor. I like your topic of your blog.


  2. Very interesting article.
    I never knew much about ladyboys, except from what I heard others say.
    I never knew that ladyboys had such a short life expectancy, and their “careers” are pretty much over after 26. It’s sad to see people being sold into a “ladyboy” school, because they are so poor and desperate.
    It really makes you think about how fortunate we are.
    (Maria Langill)


  3. It’s true what they say in life sometimes, you never really know what is going on around the world until you inform yourself properly! You sure have opened my eyes to something I have never been aware of before.
    I personally find it truly sad that people have to live their lives like this, especially those who never got the choice to begin with. It sure makes me feel more grateful to have been brought and raised in a life where I have the choice and control on my future.
    In my opinion, I sure hope that with time, society will wake up and smell the coffee, because truly this is no way a human being should be treated.
    (Sarah Favreau)


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