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Intimate Photos Explore the Culture of Thailand’s ‘Ladyboys’ (NSFW)

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In Thailand, transgender women, known as ladyboys, occupy a unique and complex role in society, one that is colored in part by misconceptions and intolerance. For Mistress, photographer Soopakorn Srisakul captures the daily life of his girlfriend and four other ladyboys, who work as bar-people and call girls in the red-light Nana district in Bangkok.

Fueled by his desire to understand his partner’s experience, he paints an unflinching yet tender portrait of the ladyboy community. With few positions hiring transgender women, ladyboys face a reduced job market, typically working in department stores, makeup counters, and cabaret venues. Many crave marriage with their lovers, which is illegal in Thailand. Bargirls are paid a relatively high wage that allows them to save for gender reassignment surgeries that might not be possible otherwise. Srisakul’s girlfriend sends some of her earnings to her parents on a regular basis to keep up their buffalo farm.

Under Srisakul’s lens, being a ladyboy emerges as merely one facet of the women he photographs. Social and cultural assumptions about ladyboys give way to personal narratives composed of quiet, simple moments that deny fetishization or sensationalism. Whether working or visiting family in the countryside, Srisakul’s subjects live day to day with the same desires, joys, and vulnerabilities felt by us all.

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All images © Soopakorn Srisakul

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