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A transgender prostitute waits for customers at Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Vandy Rattana/Phnom Penh Post
Transgender identity crisis

in CAMBODIA, 12/04/2013

When asked to choose an ideal identity, one ladyboy in Phnom Penh told researchers, “I want to be a real girl. I was a girl in my previous life.”

The interviewee explained that according to village elders ladyboys had been women in past lives but had stolen other women’s husbands, and so were reincarnated as transgender.

Ironically, the stigma surrounding ladyboys’ sex and gender, rather than causing them to suppress this part of their identity, often pushes them to view themselves disproportionately in terms of it, researchers said yesterday during a presentation of their findings in a Phnom Penh workshop.  

In interviews earlier this year with 50 biologically male transgender sex workers around Phnom Penh, researchers from anti-trafficking NGO Love146 found that 90 per cent of respondents said their best friends were other transgendered persons.

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