I began researching this topic because I heard a speaker say “pray for the ladyboys in Thailand”. This is not a pleasant subject and I would encourage you to use caution in researching it.
The term “ladyboy” refers to boys that are transgender. Wikipedia definition: Kathoey is a Thai term that refers to either a transgender woman or an effeminate gay male in Thailand. A significant number of Thais perceive kathoeys as belonging to a third gender, including many kathoeys themselves, while others see them as either a kind of man or a kind of woman. The word kathoey is of Khmer origin. It is most often rendered as ladyboy or lady boy in English conversation with Thais and this latter expression has become popular across Southeast Asia.
Searching the internet for this subject hits the range of sad, horrified, sickened and disturbed. (Like I said be careful) Below are excerpts from various blogs of personal interaction:
“Ladyboys are men who dress as women and toms are women who dress as men. To say either group identifies as “men” or “women” would oversimplify the issue. The polite term for katoey in Thai literally translates to “third gender.” Thai has no gendered pronouns, but when Thais refer to ladyboys and toms in English, they consistently used “her” and “him” respectively in such a natural way it seems to reflect the way they think of the people rather than an effort towards political correctness”
“It is a troubled world for these people, at times, dark and abusive. In the search for life and love they look in every direction.”
“Pray for healing, transformation, restoration, spiritual breakthrough, workers among this community”.
“You know it is so easy when you come on a mission trip to be visualizing what you will do and who you will work with and how it will look. For me I was thinking I am going to work with children and with the women who are sold as ugly. Then just as easy as that is for me to visualize God says child I have other plans.ha he has a mind of his own…..Let me tell you about LadyBoys; they all are men that have been surgically altered and portray themselves as women and for all intensive purposes live and sell themselves as women. These are men that have gotten lost along the way just like we get lost along the way sometimes. Sometimes they have been emotionally or physically abused as children and to the extreme. Now more than anything they just look for love and acceptance wherever and however they can get it”.
“We are headed to Bangkok this week to focus on working with a group of Ladyboys…I love it when God changes my plans and trades them in for his ! As a westerner, I did not understand what being a ladyboy meant in Thailand. There are 67 million people in Thailand, and an estimated 2.8 million of them are prostitutes—men and women. Sons and daughters can be sold for as little as $12 and can serve up to a dozen customers daily. The problem is so widespread, there are more centers of prostitution than there are schools”.
“Some boys make their own choice to become Ladyboys. For some though, the choice is made by the parents at an early age. So the parents will look at their sons, and choose the one who exhibits the most feminine qualities, change his name to a ‘her’ name, dress him in girl’s clothing and give him girl toys to play with. He is now a Ladyboy. Then they have the assurance that at least one of their children will provide for them, especially if they enter the sex tourism industry where the money is good”.
“Michelle is a lady boy from a village outside of Chiang Mai. He was asked when he was younger what he wanted to be when he was older. He said he wanted to be a hairdresser. From a young age Michelle was put on hormones because his parents thought he should have been a girl. Michelle has lived through life as a man but being pumped with hormones that make him feel female. He has no identity. Stuck between manhood and womanhood”.
Looking into the Bible, there are several people who dealt with identity issues. Joseph was a leader in Egypt and hid his true identity to his brothers. Jacob disguised his identity to trick his father. Moses was raised with an Egyptian identity.
For someone changing their identity there are a number of possible motivations: Deceit – Trying to fool someone for profit or gain; Slavery – Being forced to hold a different identity; Protection – changing identity for self preservation; Confusion – gene/heredity/sexual issues of living a life different than the outer self may appear.
How do we respond as Christians? First off, pray. Second, learn and learn and learn. Third pray for compassion and wisdom. Fourth, find a ministry that is reaching a people group on your heart and support them or get involved.
Zechariah 7:8-10 (NIV)
8 And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: 9 “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’ Could this apply to ladyboys?