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Kungfoolss
7/02/2003 4:00am,
Out of the box: Thailand's winningest lady-boy

By Richard S Ehrlich

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/images/Parinya-Nong-Toom-Charoenph.gif

BANGKOK - A transvestite kick-boxer who endured vicious fights to earn money for a recent sex change is now immortalized in a film titled Beautiful Boxer. The true story of Parinya Charoenphol, who now appears as an elegant woman with long hair and a shy smile, provides a rare glimpse into the psychology of Thai transsexuals and their role in this Buddhist society. "A walking paradox: a girl trapped in a man's body, who fought like a man to become a woman," was the way Thailand's GMM Pictures and Spicy Apple Films announced the film, which is about to be released.

Before undergoing a sex-change operation in 1999, Parinya was a young male transvestite who showed up for kick-boxing bouts wearing lipstick to kiss male opponents, despite their shock and embarrassment. Outraged boxers vowed to beat Parinya to a pulp amid claims that a transvestite kick-boxer was a disgrace to the professional sport and a kinky "tarnishing" of pristine Thai culture. Parinya, however, knocked them out, won prizes, and soon gained a following among cheering fans. After saving enough for a sex change in a Bangkok hospital, he became a she with a life story that caught the attention of Ekachai Uekrongtham, a Thai-born film director and producer.

Boxing, Buddhism and the biology of gender profoundly influenced Parinya's life. "In my next life, I want to be born as a real man in my heart and soul because now, in this life, I was born with the body of a man but with the heart of a woman," Parinya said in Thai during a taped interview. "When I was young, whenever I saw a young girl I thought, 'How come I'm not like her?' I was fond of good-looking boys. But I don't want to be reborn as a woman because it is much harder to be a woman than to be a man," she said. "I call myself a sau prapet-song, which translates as a 'second type of woman'," Parinya added, stroking her straight hair. Parinya is famous throughout Thailand and received widespread international news coverage when, before her sex change, she fought men while wearing makeup. "I was able to wear makeup while boxing, nobody stopped me. I wore foundation, powder, lipstick and so on. When I first started boxing, I used only a little bit, like eyebrow liner and a light lipstick, so people didn't really notice, though I knew I looked better with it on. Later, when everybody knew, I could put on a lot," she said.

When Parinya kissed male opponents at the end of boxing bouts, audiences went wild. "The reason I kissed men after a fight is because it was my way of apologizing, and telling the guy, 'It is not that I hate you, it is just a sport, and I'm sorry that I have to do it.' Even when I was boxing, I felt like I was a woman because I didn't believe a woman has to be weak and helpless. A woman can be strong and fight as well as a man." Affectionately nicknamed "Nong Toom" by Thais, she broke new ground for transvestites and transsexuals in a society where many people claim to be sexually conservative while simultaneously tolerating widespread prostitution and alternative sexual lifestyles. Thai TV often includes transvestites in soap operas, comedies, talk shows and other programming, though they are usually portrayed in absurd slapstick or as lonesome characters. Liberal Bangkok officials allow an annual "gay pride" parade in the Thai capital. Parinya, however, said she was never gay.

"I don't understand about being gay. Do gay men want to be a man or a woman? Because if they want to be a woman, how come they work out and make themselves look more like a man? And if a person is a man, why do they like someone else who is the same gender? "For me, I'm sure who I am. I'm now a transsexual. I always wanted to be a woman. I've always been a woman in my heart and I want everything about me, physically, to be a woman. It is not the same as being gay." In Thailand, a transsexual or transvestite is known as a katoey. No one knows how many there are, but some estimates suggest 10,000 katoeys live and work in this Southeast Asian country, often as prostitutes but also as white-collar executives, artists, actors, models, cooks and in other professions. Katoeys are often mocked and feared, however, because some drug and rob clients in seedy sex scams or are quick to create loud public scenes. "People mostly accepted me being a transvestite, maybe more than they accepted other transvestites, because I've always been a very good person, polite and helpful to my friends. So even though they knew I was like this, they treated me like a friend," Parinya said. "Even my parents accepted me because I would help them earn money and never do bad things."

In the boxing ring, some opponents hit Parinya with verbal abuse. "Some Thai kick-boxers said very hurtful things, like I am 'just a transvestite'. So I would say, 'Even though I'm a transvestite, I can fight. And I'm famous." But they would say, 'Well, you are only famous because you are a transvestite.' It was like when kids bully you when you are young." Parinya, now 21, began kick-boxing as a 12-year-old boy. In 1998, when a teenage Parinya was about to fight - and win - his first major bout, he started to cry when doctors said he had to strip for the weigh-in to confirm he physically qualified as a male. Today, Parinya can no longer fight in Thailand because women are not allowed to kick-box, a traditional sport known locally as muay Thai. "Maybe I will box overseas," Parinya said. "I received some offers from America and Japan to fight." Her future, however, will focus on "modeling, acting and singing", she said. Psychiatrists have tried to understand how some people perceive themselves to be trapped in the "wrong" body.

"It feels like there is some kind of pressure, like you need to reach out for something, to be a total woman, but you know that is not going to be entirely possible," Parinya said. "When you are young, life is fun because you don't think about it. As long as you have your friends to play with, you are fine. It is only when you grow older, then you think about it more. I always thought one day I would have a sex change." In 1999, Parinya underwent an operation in Bangkok's Yanhee Hospital. Banking on her fame, she was able to get a discount in exchange for becoming the hospital's public relations representative, she said. "The hospital is well known for cosmetic surgery and sex changes, and they gave me a special price. Normally, it would cost 80,000 baht [US$1,860] for the sex-change operation." Despite Parinya's feminine appearance, she still speaks in a man's voice because she did not have her Adam's apple removed or voice box altered, and she makes no effort to conceal her bass tone. "I didn't know that type of operation existed, but I am going to do that soon," she said.

Parinya is 174 centimeters tall and says her figure is a statuesque 37-27-37 (94-69-94 in metric reckoning) because she is much bigger-boned than most Thai females. After years of boxing, she insists her body is healthy. "I do not have any injuries. I really protect myself and I kick the others before they can kick me. I'm known for kicking really hard and knocking people out." But her heart is broken. Parinya's boyfriend abandoned her last year. "Nature makes man to be with a real woman, so it probably will never work out for a man to be with me. I cannot give a man everything like a woman can. For example, I can't give him a child. "I don't really know what a man wants from a woman. And I don't know if I'm really a woman now, because I don't really know how a real woman feels. "But whatever I can give a man, I will give."

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/EG02Ae01.html

SLJ
7/02/2003 4:34am,
.... Nice

----------------------------------------------------------
Space may be the final frontier,
But it's made in a Hollywood basement.

Fatality Dragon
7/02/2003 6:12am,
I bet her next boyfriend will die of heart attack when he rip her pants off only to find that she have a penis!!!!! If she ever come to USA I will break her apart in the ring!!!!!! If she try to kiss me, I would round house her in the lip so hard that blood would serve as her lipstick!!!

It is a rat eat rat world.

"A magical place where I have a freakish large penis and I am also the king of the mushroom people." - by Omen Stone

CrimsonTiger
7/02/2003 7:51am,
Easy there, homophobe.

I'm fairly sure that she went through with the FULL operation...so I doubt you'd know the difference if she stripped down. From what I understand, surgery can do some amazing things now-a-days. LOL!

I read about this guy/girl back in 2001, maybe even earlier. Very interesting mindset...and even more interesting that he fought so well and was so good at a traditionally male sport (psychologically speaking).

She HAS had bouts since then in the U.S. In fact, as I recall she fought a male kickboxer and lost badly relatively soon after her sex change operation. Apparently the elevated estrogen levels and some other elements of the operation/therapy affected her strength and endurance. It's too bad, would have been interesting to see a "woman" who could kick the crap out of men. LOL!

Regards,
CrimsonTiger

"This place has a lot of potential."
"Yeah! Man, it's a HO-asis!" - 2 Fast 2 Furious

Mr. Nice Guy
7/02/2003 1:51pm,
I don't think FD is a homophobe in this case. The *ahem* person in question denies being gay, so if anything, in the interest of generic disrespect, FD is only guilty of hyphenate misanthropy-misogyny.

I think...

FingerorMoon?
7/02/2003 5:52pm,
I want to see the film.

Funny stuff.

--------
El Guapo says, ""You can buy muscles, but you can't buy COJONES!"
--------

Kungfoolss
7/02/2003 9:05pm,
I frankly don't understand why this is even an issue, most stylists fight like girls anyways.

Jenfucius
7/03/2003 12:08am,
transvestite that beats up men and then kisses them? sounds scary to me!

Fatality Dragon
7/03/2003 12:34am,
I am not scare of homo! You have see me talk and joke around with IGBJJ... I miss him! Anyway also a lot of my friends are gay and one of my two female roommate is bi. I am just REALLY against playing around with nature (that inculde transex, bringing the dead back to live, clone, and other things). I would defense nature to death if I can!!!

It is a rat eat rat world.

"A magical place where I have a freakish large penis and I am also the king of the mushroom people." - by Omen Stone

FingerorMoon?
7/03/2003 12:40am,
You're against bringing the dead back to life ?

Well you're no fun at all.

--------
El Guapo says, ""You can buy muscles, but you can't buy COJONES!"
--------

deus ex machina
7/03/2003 12:46am,
I would defense nature to death if I can!!!

And here we see the cause of global warming.

~
danny

"All this talk about 'newbies' is making me a little nervous. You guys don't have any sort of secret hazing initiation involving wooden paddles and me screaming 'Thank you sir, may I have another?!' do you?"

Fatality Dragon
7/03/2003 1:02am,
I can't defense the global... But I still do my part, I don't even throw trash away on street or anything, I try to not use chemical to clean things as much as possible (I still do use soap!), I try to recycle and many other things. Earth may seem really big and tough but it is actually very very fragile, even more fragile than a egg shell!

It is a rat eat rat world.

"A magical place where I have a freakish large penis and I am also the king of the mushroom people." - by Omen Stone

Deadpan Scientist
7/03/2003 1:47am,
Earth may seem really big and tough but it is actually very very fragile, even more fragile than a egg shell!


Sniff, sniff, How true...(tear rolls down cheek in the moonlight)

Kungfoolss
7/03/2003 2:18am,
Earth may seem really big and tough but it is actually very very fragile, even more fragile than a egg shell!


Tree huggers make me want to hurl...<img src=icon_smile_dead.gif border=0 align=middle>

Fatality Dragon
7/03/2003 2:59am,
I am no tree hugger, but I am against dumb things such as littering, pollutioning, and other stuff. People can ACTUALLY do something to help the area they live in stay cleaner and healthier. Do you litter and leave trash around your house? How would you like to turn water on only to get it full with oil, gas, human wastes, etc...? That isn't tree hugging, that is KEEPING YOUR AREA CLEAN!!! Why ruin the place you live in if you can keep it clean easily? How would you like it if someone dump all their trash on your yard?

It is a rat eat rat world.

"A magical place where I have a freakish large penis and I am also the king of the mushroom people." - by Omen Stone

SLJ
7/03/2003 3:53am,
"I'm against bringing the dead back to life"


I'd say you're ok here FD... seeing as that's impossible.

I agree with you on pollution and everything else though, it's disgracefull.

----------------------------------------------------------
Space may be the final frontier,
But it's made in a Hollywood basement.