Pattaya is notorious for it's swinging sex district, sex tourists and the locally coined (excuse the pun) sex-pats. Like all red light zones throughout the world, there is also a large LGBT community. Of course, I don’t know and have never taken the time to ask but, I feel, like Soho in London, many people come as the breadth of sexual persuasions, both financial and fetish, leads to greater acceptance for LGBT people in general.
One of the first things that hits you when you come to Pattaya is simply the number of transgender people there are. The ones that stand out are the natural born boys gone girls. They are everywhere. In no way are they confined to the bars and massage parlours, you find them in every mundane job role throughout the city.
I knew there were a lot of trans people when I came to Pattaya. I’m not a person who goes somewhere where I know I will likely to be annoyed or upset. So I was well prepared to accept this aspect of Pattaya, but I didn't realise just how large the trans population really is.
Clear As Day
For a straight man, we’re always told that when you’ll come you’ll find yourself in a situation that you’re convinced to the contrary of someone's birth gender. When you do arrive there are plenty of very convincing trans women, but initially as you make your way through the bars and go-gos you’re never fooled as, no 'real' women, ever behave the way these guys do. OTT is de facto at the side of the road. And complete and under arrogance can be seen also, as you walk by a 'looker' on the road that has convinced herself that, you simply were convinced just then. But it’s that boyish arrogance that gives those ‘girls' away because, regardless of how much like a girl they look, they’ve still given way to the personal satisfaction of being the alpha-transgender female. And difference between the alpha-male and the alpha-female air and identity is about as subtle as brick in the face, however much time they’ve lead a normalised trans life.
Seeing is believing
But honestly, it’s those partaking in the more domestic life-styles that have completely fooled me. Purchasing trousers for my new teaching job, I went to a reduced outlet mall off second road in Pattaya. Having been looking for a few hours and finding what amounted to a bargain for my budget, I was completely taken back when an attractive and calm checkout girl couldn’t hold onto her falsetto tone, and briefly but oh so obviously let her larynx relax as she served me. I have to say I was convinced. Taken by surprise, my thoughts instantly fell back to the time that a good and trusted friend said ver matter of factly, 'it will happen'.
Less of a Gamble
Opening my mind to the trans omnipresence, and not wanting to be another disrespectful falang (foreigner) objecting to the nature of his hosts' ways of life, I’ve mooted their numbers and come to realise that this city of sin really has allowed this particular group of people to live very normal lives. For whatever reason they wish to reassign their gender or identity, it's clear there lots of very normal respectful transgender people who are thriving as one would expect from any ‘normal’ group of people in a ‘normal' society.
No need for baggage, making adjustments for prejudice, or helping people more used to more traditional gender conformity overcome their initial reaction to their trans identity. No, here trans is the norm and so, as welcome addition to the salubrious social side of Pattaya, I have met trans people whose personality and identity has developed against the backdrop of normalised acceptance of their being. And of course, they grow to be completely normal people. So much so that you can easily drop the transgender adjective, much the same way as you can drop the differentiation of ‘black’ when referring to black friends or communities in London and England.
So, differentiating here to the most part is pointless. We are the same people. But I will add before I leave this paragraph, that one of the easiest way to describe one the groups I feel most hostility to in Pattaya are the ‘kathoeys’ that line some of the streets. Just incase you’d fantasied that that group in its entirety had made it into the ‘Star Trek” social order, lamentably there are plenty of complete dickheads lining the streets near the beach cat calling as they do. So be prepared if you ever decide to come.
Below the Surface
So, after normalising the obvious transgenders, your RAS stops highlighting them as you filter through the people on the street. You're mind gets to spend more time with other sights in your vision. Generally you can find a wide variety of people of all sorts of persuasions, and your brain will have no end of preconceived ideas about their person. - Expats wth girls 40 years younger than them. Expats with transgenders. Message girls also become and everyday sight. Look closer and you’ll find another group you might have missed.
Taking a closer look at some of the boys you’ll see that actually a lot of them are very cleanly shaven. Closer inspection and even being social enough will reveal quite a few as Tom Boys. So it eventually becomes apparent that Pattaya also has a large group of Toms. This is interesting because they’re quite often seeking girl friends.
My Reverse Role Evening
So one of my more peculiar experiences but apparently not out of the ordinary was a trip to a Tom Boy bar. Populated by mainly Tom Boys, rich Go-go dancers can come and watch a stage show and line out of Toms, inviting one to drink with them at their table for a fee. This is a Go Go bar in reverse, a girl-girl affair. It’s more a play and tradition than anything else, but the rich dancers apparently share their wealth this way and find ways to unwind from the ugly men falling in love with them at their Go-go and beer bars.
I feel a little sad for the Toms as it occurs to me they don’t get the potential windfalls and the girls and ladyboys get. But they’re probably one of the most genuine of the trans-groups I gather, with gay men maybe going trans because they can earn more money as woman, Toms come to Pattaya for the sake of being the misfit that can not only blend in but be completely at home.
So Pattaya, well known for the flesh trade and as it seems, also well known in the LGBT communities for having a mature and well integrated LGBT community.
Indeed, my hair dresser is a transgender lady. A good proportion of the workers at the local large supermarket are also transgender. A transgender teacher came to work at our school, and actually in my condo there is a transgender couple from the UK both reassigned from their birth gender to their current correct one. So Pattaya is a place in the sun for them to feel safe and accepted in too.