On New Year’s day, I was sitting in front of my laptop looking through some of the profiles of the other Ladyboys on the Ladyboy dating site iDateLadyboy. “Such a high percentage of Trans-pinay on the site,” I thought. “No wonder some people think there are more Trans women or Ladyboys in The Philippines than elsewhere.”
The more I thought about this, the more I realized that there is quite a contradiction or conundrum here. In such a conservative, religious society such as The Philippines, why are there so many visible Ladyboys? After all, we are talking about an Asian society where to be seen to be different is mot encouraged. Then, add in the dogma espoused by the Catholic church, which controls the thoughts, minds and behavior of the vast majority of the population. You might think that Ladyboys would be fearful of appearing in public.
Ladyboys still face challenges
Of course, there is still discrimination and prejudice against Transgender women in The Philippines, mainly fanned by religious intolerance, and not only at New Year. T-girls also suffer through a lack of education to the general public about what being Trans is all about. No, we are not child molesters or perverts and do not attack people in public toilets. (The last point is the unfounded fear of so many Christian conservatives in the US in the so-called “bathroom wars”).
Yet things are improving with LGBT rights and equality activists becoming more prominent. In the country, therefore, by and large, Trans women are tolerated, albeit not accepted. It heartens me to look around Manila or Cebu or Baguio and see so many Ladyboys out and proud. It also gives me great encouragement to see so many Ladyboys or Trans-pinay on iDateLadyboy. This shows to me that there remains a huge demand from foreign men to date Trans women, especially from The Philippines.
In reality, I don’t think there are any more Ladyboys or Trans women in the country than there are Kathoeys or Ladyboys in Thailand. Or more Transgender women here than in Vietnam or other Asian countries. I think it’s all to do with visibility. From what I have read, and I have researched this quite a lot, in any given country, the typical percentage range of people who are non-binary or identify as LGBT is between about 5-7%. Trans people as a subset of this range comprise about 1-1.5% of the population.
So, in The Philippines, it’s not unreasonable to say that there are around 1.2 to 1.6 million Trans people. We also have a lot of female to male Trans people here. This number may be too conservative as some gay men like to dress as women at times and I guess you can say, if they are overly effeminate, they are “borderline” Transgender.
Let’s accept that the number of Ladyboys in The Philippines is in line with other Asian countries. Also, the tolerance levels of Ladyboys in society is pretty much the same as other Christian or non-religious Asian countries. The question then is: why are there so many Ladyboys or Trans-pinay in all sectors of society?
Trans-pinay are amongst the most popular Trans women for foreign men
Maybe we need to look at some of the advantages of Trans-pinay. These include:
- relatively slight build, with body shapes not overly masculine and with natural female characteristics. Many Trans-pinay have small waists, slim torsos, long-legs or well-shaped bottoms;
- facial features with high cheekbones and full lips thereby producing features that can be seen as female or male. Many foreign me looking to date Trans-pinay are besotted with the fact that we look so feminine to start with. Add some make-up and it is often very, very hard to tell the difference between a Filipino male face and a female face;
- many T-girls start taking hormones and self-medicating on estrogen or similar from their early teens. This helps prevent the development of overtly male characteristics such as Adam’s apple or stops the voice breaking. Many Asian males have little facial or body hair and this also help when presenting as female;
- if the hormones mentioned above do not produce enough breast growth, the first thing many Trans-pinay do as soon as they can afford it has breast implant surgery. This, of course, further enhances the feminine shape;
- generally, Filipinos are more gregarious and more outgoing than many of their Asian neighbors. This helps with interaction with foreigners and also enhances the appeal of a Trans-pinay to a foreign man looking for someone to date and have fun times with;
- then there is the English language liability and cultural outlook. Apart from, perhaps, Singaporeans, the levels of spoken English in The Philippines is amongst the best in Asia. Furthermore, in view of the fact that the Islands were colonized by Spain for over 400 years and the US for over 50, the cultural and societal outlook is more aligned with the West. Again, this makes Trans-pinay of greater appeal to a western man
I can keep adding to this list but I think you get the general picture. Undoubtedly, Trans-pinay are amongst the most popular type of Transgender women foreign men are looking to date. Scrolling through the profiles on the Ladyboy dating site iDateLadyboy website only serves to reinforce this. For me, I can vouch for the fact that this is true as hardly a day goes by without me getting a message from someone, somewhere in the world! Especially at New Year!