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  1. #1
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    dirtydog's Avatar
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    Ladyboy care center in Pattaya

    WE CARE

    Somewhere to turn to



    A first-of-its-kind counselling centre in Pattaya offers respite for members of the city's transgender population

    Story by ARUSA PISUTHIPAN Photos by YINGYONG UN-ANONGRAK
    Transsexuals are rarely made to feel at home in everyday society. But in Pattaya, there is one place where they are wholly welcome.

    "Here at Sisters Counselling Centre, every transsexual feels like a family member. We feel happy and comfortable being ourselves. It's like home," says 26-year-old Sittiphan Boonyapisomparn, one of the centre's supervisors.

    Established in June 2005 with financial support from Washington-based non-profit organisation Population Services International, Sisters was the first counselling service in Thailand to cater exclusively to transsexuals.

    Sittiphan says Sisters is also the only health service in the country to specifically focus on transsexuals, to whom its awareness programmes on HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases are pitched.

    Sisters was set up in Pattaya because of the city's large transsexual population of 600 to 700 in the low tourist season and more than 1,000 in the high season.

    Aside from its health, counselling and information services, Sisters aims to create a sanctuary for transsexuals, a place where they can relax, talk openly, use the Internet or even undertake daily tasks like getting changed, bathing or cooking.

    Just like home.

    "There is always discrimination against transgender people in society," comments Sittiphan, who is a transsexual. "Transgender people face occupational limitations and often lack self-esteem. Many times they are victims of violence. Our aim is to [help them] maintain their identity and have a better quality of life."

    As a haven for transsexuals, the centre also welcomes their friends and boyfriends who are also offered information and support related to HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases. By providing knowledge, understanding and awareness of HIV/AIDS, the centre aims to reduce the number transsexuals infected with the disease.

    As well as a drop-in service, Sisters provides an outreach counselling by having its staff directly approach young transsexuals who, for whatever reason, are unable or unwilling to pay Sisters a visit. These staff offer information, support, or simply friendship to the transsexuals they meet.

    But the majority of Sister's work is done in-house, where, along with the services named above, recreational activities such as a cooking club, a beach volleyball club and make-up classes are undertaken. The centre also hosts a monthly forum where special guests share their experiences. On top of all of this, birthday parties for members are held regularly.

    "Our activities are not necessarily health-related. Sometimes members just drop by to have lunch with us. Often it's more like a get-together," says Sittiphan with a laugh.

    All of Sisters' services and activities are provided free of charge. Members don't even have to give their real name as the information they are required to provide is only used to maintain health records.

    In both its drop-in and outreach activities, Sisters staff aim to convey four key messages. These are to always use condoms during casual sex _ especially when drunk, to also use condoms with boyfriends or partners, to properly use sexual lubricant, and to regularly be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

    "These messages are conveyed through all the activities we do," explains Sittiphan. "For example, during a light conversation with a member, we pop in a question asking whether or not they used a condom last night. This way members indirectly learn about safe sex through friendly talks."

    Sisters currently has 20 trained staff, five who man the centre itself and 15 who undertake outreach activities.

    "Our main job is to make friends with other transgender people in the community," says Sittiphan. "Both drop-in and outreach staff give advice about anything _ from sex-change operations and tips on taking hormones or contraceptive pills to advice on safe sex practices or even how to deal with a boring job. We'll talk about anything _ anything at all."

    Sisters now has almost 300 members, most of whom are aged between 17 and 25. Most members have jobs in Pattaya but few are local people.

    "Most transsexuals here have relocated to Pattaya from Isan or the north of Thailand. We, however, prefer to have members who live in Pattaya as it's hard for end-of-year evaluations and statistics taking if they live elsewhere," says Sittiphan, adding that some transsexuals in Bangkok or Hat Yai call the centre for phone counselling.

    Sittiphan conceded that approaching the local transgender community was initially quite difficult. This was because there had never been a transsexual support centre in Pattaya before so they had to earn the trust of each person they met.

    "It's like when you first get to know somebody, it's not easy to develop trust straight away. Some don't want to talk to us. Some say rude things behind our backs. Some even walk away from us without saying a word," says Sittiphan.

    "All we can do is be patient and not give up. We always believe that people have a reason to say no to us. Perhaps they are too busy or have other important business to handle. So we keep trying and usually find that our efforts pay off."

    Another difficulty Sisters faces is an inadequate budget. Its staff would like to do more community work, but the current budget limits them to mostly health-related activities.

    Working with a largely mobile population is another obstacle for the centre. " As many of our members move here for work then return to their hometowns, it is difficult for us to follow up with them or stay in touch," explains Sittiphan.

    Sisters plans to open another office by the end of this year, but its location has not yet been decided.

    After a year and a half in Pattaya, Sittiphan says she feels happy every time someone visits the centre. Success for her is to have transgender people working together to form their own community. They are no longer scattered and disconnected in a society where gender bias is everywhere.

    "I'm working here not as a staff member but as a family member. Here is more like home, not only to me, but to everyone who visits. That's why we named this place Sisters, because when we are here, we are like sisters."

    INFO FOR DONATIONS

    - Name of organisation: Sisters Counselling Centre for Transgenders
    - Contact person: Sittiphan Boonyapisomparn, Supervisor
    - Address: 29/44 Moo 10 Soi Yen Sabai, Phratumnak Road, Banglamung District, Pattaya, Chon Buri, 20260
    - Telephone: 038-423-382
    - Email: sittiphan@psiasia.org - Bank info: Bangkok Bank, Phloen Chit branch, account name "Population Services International (PSI)-Asia (Thailand)", savings account No. 205-0-47385-5
    bangkok post

  2. #2
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    Marmite the Dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    "There is always discrimination against transgender people in society," comments Sittiphan, who is a transsexual.
    Is that because they're a bunch of fekkin' freaks?

  3. #3
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    this is certainly not a charity i will be donating to.

    but i still havent completely written off the idea of giving a ladyboy a pearl necklace

  4. #4
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    Maybe the reason for the discrimination is every time you hear about one is because the cops got em for stealing some shit.
    from sex-change operations and tips on taking hormones or contraceptive pills
    Now I don't know about this,, I didn't think they could get knocked up, maybe piles but not babys.

  5. #5
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    "It's like when you first get to know somebody, it's not easy to develop trust straight away. Some don't want to talk to us. Some say rude things behind our backs. Some even walk away from us without saying a word," says Sittiphan.
    Fuck, most farangs could say that about alot of normal Thais?

  6. #6
    ding ding ding
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    Transsexuals are rarely made to feel at home in everyday society
    but in Thailand they are accepted as perfectly normal with maybe the exception of the tourist resorts where rightly they have a bad reputation that they earned while being.....bad
    Up here in Isaan i see loads of ladyboys out and about and nobody seems to bat an eyelid, even when they are not quite up to the usual standard......eg stubble and beer bellies etc etc

  7. #7
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    There are a few live in our village, but as you say, they are tolerated but never truly accepted, folks always making rude remarks and laughing at em after a nasty joke.



    *underlined words that others use, I laugh..

  8. #8
    better looking than Ned
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackgang
    There are a few live in our village, but as you say, they are tolerated but never truly accepted, folks always making rude remarks and laughing at em after a nasty joke.
    I have seen this as well yes they are excepted in the family but you wont find the men of the village droping in for chat. Have I told you my uncle has the best tits in isaan

  9. #9
    The Pikey Hunter
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    "Ladyboy Care Center in Pattaya"

    Is this the place where you take a broken one to get it fixed or something?

  10. #10
    ding ding ding
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackgang View Post
    There are a few live in our village, but as you say, they are tolerated but never truly accepted, folks always making rude remarks and laughing at em after a nasty joke.



    *underlined words that others use, I laugh..
    your talking about farangs here,not katoeys.. right?

  11. #11
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    I've been in this country for 16 years (not permanent resident) and never had the slightliest problem with katoeys, just depend on how careful and how you can adress to them. They are part of this country and I can accept (the with)them without to deal with.

    Edited due to a typo
    Last edited by Wallalai; 10-01-2007 at 01:09 AM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wallalai View Post
    I can accept the with them without to deal with.
    couldn't have put it better myself

  13. #13
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    NO, HELO, never seen a farang queer since I been here, but I never go to the touristy areas since I left Chiang Mai.
    I have been on some forums where they seem to congregate, but I never lasted long on em.
    But Katoeys are really nothing, I have seen lots of em and like I said some live here in our village, people make bad remarks about em, but their familys put up with em and when one dies of AIDS they have a grand funeral for em, I guess just as fine as they would for any other family member.
    My friend that owns the local Home Mart has a couple working in his main office, they always offer coffee when I go into his office and we set and bullshit but never have offered a blow job so I guess they alright.
    My wife had one queer in one of her class's when I first married her and I used to go to school and help her with her english class's, that dude was just getting to close to me, but he never said or did anything, maybe just interested in talking to a farang, He left her school that year and now has had the op a few years ago, got a farang boy friend from what my wife told me and is living in a rent paid apt. in Pattaya and driving a new beemer coupe. he/she comes to visit it's folks and visits my wife when it comes up.

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