Thai "Ladyboy" Romance Music Video Will Pull At Your Heartstrings

In Depth

The video chronicles the reunion of a woman with her best friend, with whom she was in love when they were teenagers. However, there’s a twist, as her best friend knew her as a “boy.” She is, in fact, a “ladyboy,” which is the preferred term for many individuals in Thailand we might label as trans women in a Western context. The video by Vid Hiper has gone viral with almost nine million views.

The best friend is not aware he is with his former friend until he discovers the matching tattoos they had done when they were teenagers. His reaction is quite violent at first, which mimics the behavior of his teenage self upon finding out about his friend’s romantic interest. The violence, both past and present, is rather difficult to watch and underscores a very probable reaction to romantic interest from LGBT youth towards someone whose sexuality may be completely heteronormative. For queer youth, violence is often a risk of sharing feelings. Just as the situation appears to get worse, the best friend admits that now, as then, the bond between them is strong, and he has not stopped thinking about her.

Although, in my view, even if there seems to be a possibility for a happy ending, this guy doesn’t seem worth it. He seems fairly misogynistic, and his treatment of other female characters in the video is pretty problematic. Perhaps the message, as is often the case in romance formulas, is that love is blind. She loves him no matter how badly he treats women, and he loves her because something something conquering homophobia and transphobia? I guess?

The lyrics, which are translated into English (although admittedly not a great translation) will probably be offensive to many trans women if viewed in a Western context as they include lyrics like, “Although my body is false, my heart is pure” and “I’m an artificial woman.” However, it’s really important to view these lyrics first with the understanding that the translation by RSIAM is probably not the best, and also that a Western context is not the best lens through which to view these lyrics.

As a little more background, in Thailand, gender identity is fairly complicated. There is a far more porous barrier between gay men and heterosexual trans women. Ladyboy is not offensive when used as a label by those who claim it, although it should never be applied to non-Thai trans women. If used in a Western context, however, it absolutely is offensive. You will often hear these gender variant individuals use female pronouns but refer to themselves as homosexual although they live as women and are interested exclusively in men. Sometimes they are considered a third gender. Sometimes they consider themselves a third gender.

Video via RSIAM/YouTube.

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