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Ying Ang, New York

Ying Ang is a photographer of stories, journeys and contemporary quirks. Her work is centrally focused on varying themes of the human condition. Currently based in New York, Ying is a member of the Brooklyn-based photographer collective MJR. This work is from her series, ‘Boys Girls Boys’, a glimpse into the life of a ladyboy, Sri Vet, in Cambodia. Of this work she says, ‘Sri Vet is a Khmer ladyboy. She has not considered herself male since she was 14 years old. Tolerated by the local community, her only real avenues of income are hairdressing, bar work at the now defunct local ladyboy bar and prostitution. She shares a single room and one double bed with 3 other ladyboys-they take turns on the floor on a rotational basis. Ostracized as a woman as well as a man, therefore unable to work in either capacity, Sri Vet considers her role as sex worker inescapable. She is also an incurable romantic’.

SV-’I always knew it would be hard. I want to find love but here it is always the same story. I will find a Khmer boyfriend and after he spends whatever money I have and has his fun, he will leave and marry a woman who can give him children. I still fall in love sometimes though. It’s hard to put that part of yourself aside, no matter how impossible it might seem…except it’s bad for business. I don’t charge the ones I like. The one-night Khmer customers pay US$1.50. If I am lucky enough to find a foreigner for the night, he might pay me US$10. If I get a customer tonight, I will eat lunch the next day. If not, I will try again tomorrow night. It’s a difficult life to wake up to sometimes, but this is who I am. I cannot be any other way and would rather live like this than pretend to be what I’m not.’

  • http://www.journeysandtravels.com Journeys and Travels

    this is an eye-opener post. I was in Cambodia last month and never saw these lady boys though and if I did, i could have written as great a post such as this one.

    Yes, they needed to be placed in a society that is not only tolerant of them but also appreciates their contributions to society. They are human beings after all.