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Monks Teach Maleness To Thai 'Ladyboys'

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Monks teach maleness to Thai 'ladyboys'

Feature - by Janesara Fugal

CHIANG KHONG, July 16, 2011 (AFP) - The 15-year-old aspiring "ladyboy" delicately applied a puff of talcum powder to his nose -- an act of rebellion at the Thai Buddhist temple where he is learning to "be a man".

"They have rules here that novice monks cannot use powder, make-up, or perfume, cannot run around and be girlish," said Pipop Thanajindawong, who was sent to Wat Kreung Tai Wittaya, in Chiang Khong on the Thai-Laos border, to tame his more feminine traits.

But the monks running the temple's programme to teach masculinity to boys who are "katoeys", the Thai term for transsexuals or ladyboys, have their controversial work cut out.

"Sometimes we give them money to buy snacks but he saved it up to buy mascara," headteacher Phra Pitsanu Witcharato said of Pipop.

Novice monks' days pass as in any other temple -- waking before dawn, collecting alms and studying Buddhism -- but every Friday attention turns to the katoeys at the attached school.

"Were you born as a man or a woman or can you not specify your gender - not man or woman?" asked Phra Pitsanu at a recent assembly. "You cannot be anything else but your true gender, which is a man. As a novice you can only be a man."

The temple has a stricter interpretation than others of rules governing behaviour during Buddhist training that is a key childhood experience for many Thai boys.

Pupils are banned from using perfume and make-up and prohibited from singing, playing music and running.

"We cannot change all of them but what we can do is to control their behavior to make them understand that they were born as a man... and cannot act like a woman," said Phra Pitsanu.

The Kreung Tai temple has run the course for boys aged between 11 and 18 since 2008, after former principle Phra Maha Vuthichai Vachiramethi devised the programme because he thought reports of katoeys in the monkhood had "affected the stability of Thai Buddhism".

He told AFP that he hopes the teaching methods will be rolled out to other temple schools to "solve the deviant behavior in novices".

It is an attitude that enrages gay rights and diversity campaigner Natee Teerarojanapong, who said trying to alter the boys' sense of gender and sexuality was "extremely dangerous".

"These kids will become self-hating because they have been taught by respected monks that being gay is bad. That is terrible for them. They will never live happily," he told AFP.

Gay and katoey culture is visible and widely tolerated in Thailand, which has one of the largest transsexual populations in the world, and Natee said the temple's programme is "very out of date".

But Phra Atcha Apiwanno, 28, disputed the idea that society accepted ladyboys and said he joined the monkhood because of social stigma about his sexual identity.

"The reason I became a monk is to train my habits, to control my expression... I didn't want to be like this," he told AFP.

Monks have had limited success in their project -- three of the six ladyboys to have graduated from the school are said to have embraced their masculinity, but the remaining three went on to have sex changes.

Pipop said he has struggled with his sexuality at the temple.

At home in Bangkok he dressed like a girl, putting on make-up and taking hormones until he developed breasts, but he has since stopped the treatment and wears only a surreptitious dab of powder at the temple.

He does not believe he will live up to his family's hopes that he will become more manly.

"I can make them proud even I'm not a man," the teenager said, adding he had given up his ambition to be an airhostess and now aspires to work in a bank.

He thinks he will have a sex change after graduation.

"Once I leave the monkhood the first thing I want to do is to shout, to scream out loud saying: 'I can go back to being the same again!'"

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-- (c) Copyright AFP 2011-07-16

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The problem is with Thai Buddhism as they dont allow woman to be a monk as enjoined by Lord Buddha.

However a woman monk cannot use makeup.

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I don't understand what this gender modification training has to do with Buddhism. More blowhard closet queens in orange trying to stop everybody else's rights to be who and what they want to be. Again Thailand proves that their unique taliban style of Buddhism will not tolerate anything but the party line.

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A waste of time.

These children are clearly wire differently in the brain than their genitals are externally observed.

You can't retrain a brain to be what it is not. Only add more information to what it has. If you load

in basic contradictions it only breeds mental disharmony, and doesn't correct what some see as a

social disharmony between the individual and society.

Conservative Christians have tried this in the west and caused more deviation than was started with.

This includes family men living a lie inside themselves and finally opting for abandoning their families,

or even as drastic as suicide etc.

A waste of time or worse.

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The problem is with Thai Buddhism as they dont allow woman to be a monk as enjoined by Lord Buddha.

However a woman monk cannot use makeup.

Not sure how you got this.

I know two women who went to be monks for a spell.

You just don't see them walking around asking for alms etc.

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My God, it is like going back a couple of hundred years in time. Imagine having a sociaty like Thailand, free and approving of most gays, lesbians and ladyboys and such stuff. And than within the very same sociaty having these Buddist monks living their lifes like it was the year of 1036 AD or something. No it is really time to fresh up the monks and the tempels in Thailand in order to make them modern and more in terms with today!

Glegolo

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Again Thailand proves that their unique taliban style of Buddhism will not tolerate anything but the party line.

:lol:

Exactly like Taliban 2.0

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Women cannot be monks in Thailand - in Si Lanka yes, but not in Thailand.

It shows that sexism and homophobia are not the sole preserves of Christians

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go the monks 555 another misguided attempt me tinks!

post-115651-0-05417700-1310790937_thumb.

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The problem is with Thai Buddhism as they dont allow woman to be a monk as enjoined by Lord Buddha.

However a woman monk cannot use makeup.

Not sure how you got this.

I know two women who went to be monks for a spell.

You just don't see them walking around asking for alms etc.

They were not monks - they can go to the temple and live like a monk, but they wear white etc and are not regarded as monks as such - nor do they have they same rights and obligations.

THere are some women protesting this as it is not universally so in other Theravada Buddhist countries

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When they are finished with their education they can then go on with their lives, whatever they choose to do. It will give them some perspective and time to decide what is the best for themselves. They will also learn patients and that they will be able to get what they want if they can wait a little while.

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The problem is with Thai Buddhism as they dont allow woman to be a monk as enjoined by Lord Buddha.

However a woman monk cannot use makeup.

Not sure how you got this.

I know two women who went to be monks for a spell.

You just don't see them walking around asking for alms etc.

Althought nothing to do with Katoy monks, there are now large numbers of fully ordained nuns (Bhikkhuni) in Thailand. Not as many as the white robed Mee Chi but the numbers are increasing. Nuns/novice nuns/bhikkhuni, mee chi as well as novice/monks are not supposed to wear make up or perfumes etc. These are part of the 8 precepts.

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The problem is with Thai Buddhism as they dont allow woman to be a monk as enjoined by Lord Buddha.

However a woman monk cannot use makeup.

Not sure how you got this.

I know two women who went to be monks for a spell.

You just don't see them walking around asking for alms etc.

Hi, officially they cannot be fully ordained as a monastic in Thailand as they do in Sri Lanka and they refuse to recognize any woman who makes it to sri lanka for ordination. However I think there is a wat in Thailand that has a woman who did this but I dont know much about her or where she is and how many others got the ordination from her.

On the other hand many women do live as a "maichi" which is a semi-monastic who wears white but they have a lower status in the social order and must do allot of menial tasks.

The bottom line is that girls cannot go to stay in the wat when they are young to study Buddhism as the boys do therefore they dont get the training that might make them chose a better life than working at a bar or a brothel.

In other words monastic ordination for women is a huge threat to the sex trade in Thailand.

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