Being a transgender in Thailand for me is so easy. Mostly I can do what I want and I can be what I want to be too.
One major exception is that I cannot legally change my gender to female, and that means I am not legally able to be married.
So far it’s not really a big problem for my life here, but it’s something I hope the government will change. I do have one memorable bad experience relating to me being a transgender...
Four years ago I wanted to have a full-time job and I researched many companies. There was a company that asked me to interview.
I went to the interview but when I got there they told me that they won’t accept any transgenders for work because they were afraid that some of their customers will think that they have unprofessional staff members.
That hurt me quite a lot and was definitely a bad experience.
- Can you tell us about your roots and growing up
Hi! My name is Napat-rapee Paladon, but most people call me Katie. I am 28 years old and live in Bangkok, Thailand. I was born as a boy to a middle class family. My parents have been working for a leather factory and I have one younger brother who is currently taking airline studies at the local university.
Since I was a very young child I always acted like a girl. I liked to play with Barbie dolls, dress up like a girl; I even walked like a girl. My favorite thing was a bath towel because it let me pretend I had long hair, or even that it was a pretty evening gown. I wanted so bad to have long hair and wear dresses but because our schools had rules for what boys had to wear, that towel was so important to me. I am sure that many Thai ladyboys probably did the very same thing!
So very early my parents understood that their little boy wasn’t actually a boy at all, and they accepted me for who I was and I always felt loved. So for that I am very lucky. Even at school I mostly hung out with other girls and loved anything to do with dancing and entertaining and things the other girls liked to do (I was the best dancer, though lol) It was all very natural for me. I think I had a pretty easy childhood.
- Tell us about your teenage dreams - what did you wanted to be when you grow up?
My dream occupation used to always be a flight attendant. Since I was young I had watched airlines advertising for Thai Airways International on TV. I saw one girl was wearing a uniform that was Thai traditional dress and she was so beautiful. I thought that I wanted to be like her and work and travel on an airplane like her - so classy. I tried to follow my dream after I graduated from college and when I signed up for graduate studies I tried to apply for an Airline Business degree. But I could not study in this major because of being transgender. I would be not accepted to study in airline business if I would dress like a woman for studying. I felt so disappointed at that time, but I could not do anything about it. So I had asked myself that If I could not be a flight attendant what else would I like to do? And I realized that I really liked to entertain, service and take care of people. So there was one other interesting major for studying and seemed fun too. I decided to study Tourism with a goal of eventually being a tour guide. And today that is what I am proud to be - a tour guide . I am so happy with my work because I can do so many things to make my tourists happy. I like to see their smiles, hear them laugh; that is my happiness for my work.
- Something about Bangkok. What would you recommend to tourists when it comes to Bangkok ?
Something about Bangkok??? If i tell you about the history of Bangkok that would take many pages! But in general I can say that Bangkok is very popular travelers from all over the world. As the capital city for Thailand, Bangkok reflects all the exotic things that attract people to Thai culture. There are of course many interesting places, but if you come here I’d say two attractions you shouldn’t miss are the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha.
- Thailand in general ? Looks like beautiful country.
Thailand is paradise for LGBT that what I have heard.
Yeah, Thailand is the country where I was born and I am so proud to be Thai. We have our language, culture and specific arts. And of course, Thai girls are very beautiful too!
As many people around the world know, we recently lost a very important person. He was King Bhumipol. We just passed a very long time of mourning. He has been passed away for two years already but he is always in our heart. He was the one who most developed modern Thailand and helped so many poor people to get better lives by creating his efficient economy project (over 3000 projects that greatly helped Thailand and Thai people). That is why Thais loved our King Bhumipol.
For me, yes, Thailand is very beautiful. We have many attractions from north to south, and west to east. We have an oriental culture that lets you learn what it means to be Thai
- You wrote “I am a nice transgender” at your IG profile. Can you explain what does it means to you ?
Yes, I wrote that sentence, “I am a nice transgender.” Honestly, at first i just wanted to mention it on my profile because some people don’t not know that I am a transgender. So I just announce it for them. I realize that some people like to look down on transgenders and believe that all should be only prostitutes, or something like that. I just wanted to make people understand that I am proud of who I am and that I have a career that also makes me proud.
- Being a transgender in Thailand. IWhat is yours experience when it comes to that ?
Being a transgender in Thailand for me is so easy. Mostly I can do what I want and I can be what i want to be too. One major exception is that I cannot legally change my gender to female, and that means I am not legally able to be married. So far it’s not really a big problem for my life here, but it’s something I hope the government will change. I do have one memorable bad experience relating to me being a transgender... Four years ago I wanted to have a full time job and I researched many companies. There was a company that asked me to interview. I went to the interview but when I got there they told me that they won’t accept any transgenders for work because they were afraid that some of their customers will think that they have unprofessional staff members. That hurt me quite a lot and was definitely a bad experience.
- You have been a competitor as a Miss Bhutan. Can you tell us about that experience ?
Oh, I am sorry if my pictures on IG made you confused! For that picture, I went to a staff party for my company and it was themed for a crazy night party. We needed to wear something that we were crazy about for competition. My friends and I are so crazy about beauty pageants so we just decided to wear dresses to represent being in the beauty pageant. I chose to represent Bhutan because I have a traditional dress that I bought from Bhutan. That’s all!
- We contacted you cause we thought that you are a model, but still, you look amazing - you are into beauty competitions after all. You are very stylish - we guess that you love to follow fashion.
Favorite brands when it comes to shoes, dresses... whatever you like yo wear
I need to tell you first that I am not model. Yes, I’d love to be a model too but I don’t think and am beautiful enough. I actually have applied for a TV program that is called “The Face Thailand”, but no I did not get chosen lol. And you guess that I love to follow fashion? Well, I also have to tell you that I am not really much of a fan of fashion at all. Every time when I buy clothes I just will look for what I can wear based on the occasion I need it for. So not too high fashion, just very simple. If you see my pictures on my IG you can tell that I always rewear my old clothes often! I don’t really buy many high fashion name brand clothes because usually, they are just too expensive. I do have two brand name bags - one is from Japan and it’s called Issay Miyake and the other one is from France and it’s called LONGCHAMP.
- Any hobbies ?
Most of my free time I just like to relax at home because my career is quite tiring (I often work many days in a row with almost no sleep in between). So when I do have some free time I really do like to spend time in bed. But When I have some opportunity I like to help people. I like to donate money, food, and stuff for some organizations for homeless kids. I like kids a lot and I just want to help with what I can do. There are so many videos and photos on social media about kids all across the world suffering from war, being poor or abused, and it breaks my hearts. It’s not just that it’s sad or wrong, but it affects us all. Kids are the future and helping them is helping us all. I do what I can for the children of Thailand and some day I hope I can do so much more. I just want to make a difference even if it’s a small one.
10. Plans for 2018
I just want to save more money so I can go traveling around the world. For being in Thailand the other plan that I have is to make a road trip for raising money, food, and necessary supplies for HIV patients I know of in a temple in Lopburi province. I think combining travel and doing good things to help other people is the best kind of plan, and it will help me grow as a person.