updated 18 Nov 2012, 04:44
Login password
Tue, Nov 13, 2012
The New Paper
Email Print Decrease text size Increase text size
Transgender couple wants a child
by Zaihan Mohamed Yusof

Boy meets girl. They fall in love and get married.

The next step? Kids, naturally. It’s just a matter of time, most would agree.

But for this Thai couple, life is not so straightforward.

They are transgenders.

One is a man bent on becoming a woman, and the other is a woman who wants to become a man.

And their dream is to have a child while it is still physically possible.

“Love can happen to anyone,” Mr Sittichai “Pond” Suafug tells The New Paper on Sunday from Bangkok, through an interpreter, “even though we may not be regarded as ‘normal’.

“Every gender can love and be loved as well as live together in (Bangkok).

“Who in the world would believe that a tomboy would fall in love with a ladyboy?”

Their unusual love story, reported in The Bangkok Post on Nov 2, has captured the attention of the Thai public. A short video clip on the newspaper’s website has garnered 11,500 views as of yesterday.

What makes their situation more intriguing – and controversial – is their determination to have a child.

Says Mr Suafug, 23, who intends to get a full-time job after completing university:“We want to start a family soon via artificial insemination. But we would have to seek medical consultation as well as counselling.”

He would not elaborate why the couple would require medical help to conceive.

Only with the “child issue” resolved would Mr Suafug and his lover Benhamaporn “Ben” Rotjutakul, consider going for their sex change operations.

Mr Suafug, who refers to himself as “phuying praphet song” (a woman of the second kind) rather than the more degrading “khatoey” (ladyboy or transgender male), first met his lover five years ago while playing online games.

Neither of them knew of the other’s sexual orientation, says Mr Suafug, who has long silky curls.

For three months, they chatted as friends without exchanging photographs or making a phone call.

They learnt of each others’ sexuality only on their first meeting. And it seemed a “perfect match”.

Says Ms Rotjutakul, 25, in Thai: “Whe nwe first met, we couldn’t look each other in the eye. I could accept Pond but I was worried that she would feel bad (about being in a relationship with me).

“But I felt better after I met(Mr Suafug).”

They soon became a couple.

The following year, they enrolled in an accountancy course at Dhurakij Pundit University in the Thai capital.

They’re still classmates, now in their fourth year.

During school holidays, they support themselves by working part-time.

They’ve been living together in a rented house in Bangkok.

Their world is a tiny room, smaller than an average HDB room, decorated with all things pinkand their favourite cuddly Doraemon dolls.

It doesn’t matter that the plywood ceiling is coming apart.

They’ve decorated the faded wooden door outside their room with their palm prints.

No matter, too, that at least two dogs and two cats share their cramped space.

For Mr Suafug and Ms Rotjutakul, love is eternal, immortalised by the many sepia-toned photos of the couple posing cheek-to-cheek.

Says Ms Rotjutakul, whose spiky hair makes her seem slightly taller than her lover: “It’s hard for a transgender like Pond to find someone who is sincere because they don’t think about getting married.

“I wanted her to know that I truly love her.”

So she made the ultimate gesture of love by asking for Mr Suafug’s hand in marriage.

They registered the marriage on Valentine’s Day this year at a local district office.

Their parents were kept in the dark.

Says Mr Suafug with a laugh: “Of course the officials were shocked. It’s the first time they’ve encountered such a union.”

In the eyes of Thai law, the couple’s marriage is legal and binding – a union between man, Mr Suafug, and woman,Ms Rotjutakul.

In the couple’s eyes though, Ms Rotjutakul is the husband and Mr Suafug, the wife.

Ms Rotjutakul has opted not to change her status to “Mrs” in the marriage certificate which the couple proudly showed The Bangkok Post.

Yet it seems that Mr Suafug still wears the pants at home.

During the interview, he barks endearingly at Ms Rotjutakul, asking her the proper spelling of their university’s name in English. She shouts back, asking for pen and paper.

Their parents, who got to know about the marriage only from Thai media reports, have accepted their relationship.

A customary wedding is next on the agenda.

And after that, children.

But would the children be confused about their parents’ sexual identities?

Says Ms Rotjutakul: “We will tell them the truth even if it hurts.

“Our children will address me as ‘Pa’ (father)and Pond as ‘Mae’ (mother).”

Adds Ms Rotjutakul, who says she has Chinese blood in her heritage:“We will educate them about our situation and how our relationship came about.”

After their marriage became public knowledge, others in a similar situation contacted the couple.

Mr Suafug says: “It shows that there are others just like us, but they don’t dare to come out just yet.

“We want to let them know that if you love one another and not hurt others, society will accept you.”

[email protected]

Get The New Paper for more stories.

readers' comments

Copyright © 2012 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.