Beginnings is able to serve and help many of the prostitutes working in the bars, but not all of them. Some prostitutes aren’t girls at all, but young boys dressed as women. These “lady boys” as they are openly called here, are often sons that come from families that either do not have daughters or their sister is unable to work and earn money. Because, as I talked about before, Thai women are expected to run the home, raise the children, and provide financially for them, sons are not necessarily very profitable. A family can send their son to work in a monastery for a short period of time (3 weeks – 3 months), and the family receives payment for their son’s work. In addition, this short period of work in a monastery will tip the son’s “spiritual scale” heavily toward the good. He is basicallyIt is not unheard of for families with only sons to choose one of their sons to “become” a daughter and work in bars to make money. These young boys are often given hormones to help make their bodies look more feminine and sometimes are given breast implants. These young boys work either on the streets or in separate bars; the demand for them among western men has grown in the past few years.
The longer these young boys stay in the sex industry, the more warped their thinking becomes. It is not uncommon for a young boy or lady boy to be purchased by a western man for sex, then use the money he earned to buy a Thai girl for the same purpose. They feel, somehow, that they have to prove their manliness after a homosexual assault, and so they take their aggression and pain out on another human being. They use the girls in the same way they are used to make themselves feel better.
Fortunately, there is one ministry in Bangkok, run by a friend of Benita, that ministers specifically to “lady boys”. These young men face very different issues than girls in prostitution, and they have to receive specialized counseling. They often face problems learning how to look and act like a man, since they are usually dressed like a girl from a very young age. They also fear for their families; if they are not able to prostitute themselves and make money to send home, who will provide for their family?
This is a question that is often difficult to answer for any of the children and young adults working in bars or on the street. If they quit their current job to get an education, they will not be able to provide for their families until they graduate and get a better job. This can be several years for some because they haven’t yet finished high school.
But that is another question that brings us back to the structure of the Thai family and their beliefs. Is it really the responsibility of a child (daughter or son) to provide for their siblings in such a sacrificial way? I understand that there are many places worldwide where children are forced to work, but the idea of being forced to sell your own body to support your family while your father probably does not hold down a job seems ludicrous.
That is a completely Western way of thinking. I know.
It’s difficult not to get upset at this perceived injustice and perpetuation of poor examples of true masculinity.
It just reminds me that in order to break these generational strongholds, these young men need Jesus. They need the example of God, the ever-loving, mighty, yet gentle Father, and they need their example in Jesus Christ.
As I have seen lady boys on the streets here in Bangkok, my heart breaks for them. The pain and confusion they deal with on a daily basis is completely beyond my understanding. Although we will not be specifically ministering to lady boys this week, they are welcome to the Christmas parties and will be directed towards ministries that can help them. Please join me in prayer for this growing group of children whose childhood and identity have been stripped from them and replaced with lies, deceit, and pain.