Jan 14, 2005

Patong's ladyboys struggle to cope in badly damaged tourist industry

First seen in Singabloodypore.
We pay to see their shows and take photographs with them, and nobody (the government especially) was complaining when their presence was raking in the tourist dollars. But look at how the Thai government is treating them after the tsunami disaster simply reeks of hypocrisy.

Even without the high heels and the giant blue plumes of her feathered headdress, Jana is a very tall girl. In fact, she normally towers over most of the customers at the Moulin Rose (sic) cabaret club, where she performs lip-synch renditions of The Power of Love. But tonight, she is slumped in a chair and feeling low.

For Jana is one of the hundreds of "lady-boys" on the red-light strip of Patong beach who survived the tsunami but are struggling to cope with its economic aftermath: the devastation of a large chunk of Thailand's tourist industry.

Like the prostitutes, masseurs, go-go dancers and kick-boxers who make a living in this hotbed of exoticism and sleaze, the transsexual population of Patong are struggling to make ends meet because the foreigners they rely on for business are being warned by their governments to stay away from the disaster zone.

They are too much of an embarrassment to the authorities to merit much support from the government, particularly at a time when the world's attention is focused on the search for foreign victims of the disaster.

But their plight - and the knock-on effect on their families - is as pitiful as the suffering of the thousands of diving instructors, tour guides and hotel operators who are also suddenly unable to make a living.

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