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"Sometimes it seems to me as though every day of my life has been like living through a long nightmare. Constantly unexpected and unwanted incidents happened to me. But one thing I know for sure is that a life without troubles is impossible."
I was born into a conservative family. We lived in a suburb where my transgender lifestyle was too complicated for people to understand. They were not able to accept that femininity could exist naturally in a boy’s body.
Since I was a baby, my mom placed me face-up in the bed. This supine sleeping position made the back of my head very flat. At school, where all the boys had to have a regulation short haircut, my flat head was clearly visible. My classmates often teased me about the flat shape of my head, saying it made me look like an old-fashioned kid, since modern mothers were more concerned with the beauty of their children. Such mothers lay their children down on their sides so they wouldn’t develop a flat head like Westerners. In addition, the supine sleeping position caused my face to become very round and my classmates regularly made fun of me by saying it was as big as a threshing basket.
My grandmother had the strongest religious faith in our family. My mother told me that one night my grandmother dreamed that a Chinese God carried a baby boy and gave it to her. The next morning I was born. I joked that my grandmother’s dream was really a nightmare.
I was born with a birthmark on my right wrist. In the beginning, it was small and bright red; then over time it grew larger and larger. I was too young to remember these events, but my father told me that every evening my grandfather walked to a temple in my hometown carrying me in his arms. An abbot consecrated in the faith performed a religious ceremony on my wrist by wearing a brass bracelet fastened to the birthmark. Afterward he placed his foot on my wrist. A miracle happened—the birthmark stopped growing and the bright red color slowly faded.
When I was around two years old, the West Nile virus was widespread in my hometown and I became very ill. I do not remember the disease, but my mother told me that I stayed in the hospital for many days. Since I was so sick, I cried much of the time and this bothered the other patients in the rooms nearby. They often yelled, asking where is this baby’s mother, why doesn’t she take care of her child? What they didn’t realize is that my mother was actually with me 24 hours a day. Finally one day a doctor told my mother that many kids in the region were stricken by the virus and that there weren’t enough beds in the hospital for everyone. They needed my bed for other children who were more likely to survive. The doctor suggested it would be better for everyone if I sacrificed my bed and went home to die.
After I was sent home and the virus and my screaming had made me delirious and turned my body a light green color, my grandmother brought me to a small Chinese temple. She prayed to God and then gave me back to Him, since in her dream God had given me to her. Once I died, she was sure there would be a place for me in heaven. However, whether it was a miracle or simply because I was a tenacious kid who had been thrown down onto this earth, I survived.
When I was small, I liked to play at a big rice mill with other kids in my neighbor. It was located just across the street from my house. If my dad hadn’t told me, I would never have known that before I was born, the mill had once belonged to my grandfather. Our family had earned a lot of money through this mill, but before we had a chance to attain real wealth, someone cheated my grandfather out of his property. My grandfather had originally come from China and lived in Thailand as an undocumented alien. Because of his status, he had no right to own a business. But my grandfather trusted people, and so he signed a contract for the rice mill along with two Thai natives. At the time, my grandfather wasn’t even able to read the language. My father once told me that when he was a little boy, he used to walk everywhere with my grandfather—from field to field to field—to negotiate purchasing rice from the local farmers. My dad understood both Chinese and Thai, and so he became the translator between my grandfather and the farmers. However, he was too young to monitor his father’s business accounts and couldn’t know that the accountant was stealing money from the business every day. Finally the rice mill was taken away from my grandfather—on that day, he locked himself up in the bedroom for three days, crying in anguish, and decided to hang himself alone in the room. Standing in front of the locked bedroom door, my grandmother along with all their children, tried to console him and begged him not to kill himself since the kids, including my father who was the firstborn, were simply too young. She told him that she wasn’t able to take care of them all, as Thailand also was not her native land. My grandmother said that as long as they were all still alive, they could rebuild their lives.
Once when I was still small, I saw a man shot to death in my neighborhood. Two men were riding on a motorcycle. Both of them wore black jackets, hats, and sunglasses. Then I saw the man who was sitting behind the driver shoot another man. The roar of the shotgun shocked everyone in the neighborhood. Within a moment, I saw the shot man fall down to the ground, covered with blood.
My grandfather always wanted me to attend the police academy. He believed that if I joined the police force I would become powerful and be able to protect the family. At that time, a corrupt elite ruled the city with armed gunmen roaming the streets at will. Those with power and wealth could live however they chose—they were untouchable. But my own family was very weak. We didn’t know how to fight—perhaps we didn’t want to—so instead we spent our days and nights working hard while having to pay unfair tributes to the powerful. At long last my grandfather’s dream of gaining status shattered when the police academy rejected me because I was a transgender.
One afternoon when I was in junior high school, my mother sent me a small piece of paper to read. It was very poorly written and had been slipped under our door by an unscrupulous man. The note said that the guy who had written the letter knew someone who had a grudge against my father. He was now offering to protect us and wanted us to pay 5,000 baht in exchange. Our family had only ever worked hard day after day and we had never gotten ourselves mixed up in anyone else’s business, but others continually tried to get us involved because they knew we had no protection. Feeling that she had no choice, my mother handed over the money that the note demanded. Just like my grandmother years before, my mother knew that she couldn’t afford to lose my father since all her children were still so young.
A few evenings later as I was helping my mother cook in the kitchen, two men driving a white pick-up truck parked next to our house. A guy called my mother to come out of the kitchen and over to the truck where he wanted to show her something. I was just about to accompany her when she asked me to wait inside. The guy showed my mother a dead man’s body covered by a gunnysack. He told her that the dead man was the person who was plotting against my father. He had shot him dead and now wanted to show her the corpse so we would know what the 5,000 were worth. My mother later told me that she had never even seen the dead man before in her life. They had simply made the story up in order to blackmail us.
My mother was a strong supporter of my education since she had always been a very good student herself but hadn’t been afforded the opportunity to gain a higher education. She believed that a good education would help us to lead a better life. I remember that when I used to ask my mother to buy me something extravagant, she refused, saying that we couldn’t afford it, but if I asked her for a book or a tutor, she never complained, no matter how high the cost. Sometimes I felt slighted because I didn’t get as many things as my friends did.
Very early one morning, I was on my way to the capital. The journey from my hometown suburb to the capital city took about two hours. In order to get into a good school in the city, I needed to pay for a tutor and engage in extra studies on the weekend, otherwise a student such as myself from a small town wouldn’t stand a chance against the students from the capital city. My mother drove over the speed limit that morning because she wanted me to be on time to catch the bus, otherwise I would arrive late at school. As we curved around a sharp turn, she lost control of the car and it skidded off the road and got stuck in the mud. I tried to help her push the car back out. Suddenly the bus arrived. She commanded me to get on. I remember sitting at the window, my face turned back, watching her trying to push the car out all alone until we were out of sight.
I attended an architectural school. One of my professors manipulated the students’ grades. Unforgivably he gave me a very bad final grade. I complained to the school and luckily won the case. There was a great deal of strong evidence against him. I wanted the professor to be expelled. After all, my parents had worked incredibly hard to pay for my tuition, and the professor had tried to ruin my future.
When I first came to America, I was still very young. I cut my hair short because I had to live in a male dormitory with a roommate whom I believed would feel uncomfortable if my appearance was too feminine. One day a friend of mine who was my compatriot asked me to go with her to the Galleria Mall. After a moment, she excused herself to go to the restroom. She walked into the women’s restroom while I used the men’s room. Upon entering I was relieved to see that there was no one inside, but then two little boys appeared. They began laughing at me; I paid no attention to them. However, once inside the stall, I noticed the two boys peeking at me through the door. I yelled at them to leave and they rushed out still laughing. Every time I used a public restroom I felt very uncomfortable. At that time my hair was short, my chest flat, and I was wearing no makeup on my face. Although all my clothes came from the women’s department, they were fairly unisex—no really female items such as dresses or skirts. On this particular day I was wearing bell-bottom jeans, yellow high-heeled boots and a linen shirt. Besides, still being so young, my body was small, which gave me a feminine appearance.
For a brief moment, the normally quiet restroom filled up with a crowd. I heard a man’s footsteps walking up and down. After finishing in the stall, I moved over to the sink to wash my hands. A security guard from the mall approached me and very seriously said, “Are you aware that this is men’s restroom?” He was more than a little surprised when I answered him in a deep voice, “Yes, I do. And are you aware that I am a man?” I then rushed out of the men’s room as fast as possible while he was still standing at the sink. By this time, a crowd of people had gathered in front of the restroom, including the two boys who were standing next to their mother. I heard the boys’ mother talking non-stop, explain loudly to the bystanders that a girl had walked into the men’s restroom and that a security guard was looking for her. My friend came over to me and asked me what was going on. I was so embarrassed to tell her, so I dragged her quickly away from the crowd.
Sometimes it seems to me as though every day of my life has been like living through a long nightmare. Constantly unexpected and unwanted incidents happened to me. But one thing I know for sure is that a life without troubles is impossible.
When I was a kid, my teacher asked—what I want to be when I grew up. A doctor—I said once, then changed my mind later to an engineer. I had never once thought of being a transgender author but now, accidentally, I have converted my life stories into writing. I believe I have a sense of humor—combining my humor with the pressures of my life’s journey are behind my stories, I enjoy turning serious incidents into fun stories. I hate to see ideas repeated, I am eager to admit new ideas into my life which means I will be dealing with new difficulties and whatever unpredictable mistakes may come with the newness—potential failure—fear of failure never stops me, life without troubles is impossible—that I have already set my mind to.
© 2011, by ½ Lady Lisa. All Rights Reserved.