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Temples tricked by ladyboy’s lies

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SAMUT PRAKAN: The life of a Thai ladyboy is full of challenges that most members of Thai society could hardly fathom – let alone deal with. On the bureaucratic front, this can be seen from the current debate raging on whether to let those who have undergone “sex reassignment surgery” use the title “Miss” on their ID cards.

Before it even reaches this stage, however, the first bridge that has to be crossed is raising enough money for the surgery – not a small amount considering the work involves penectomy and construction of a vagina where none existed before, not to mention a host of cosmetic procedures to complete the look.

Earlier this month Aussie ladyboy Stefanie Imbruglia, a first cousin of pop star Natalie Imbruglia, told Sydney’s The Sun-Herald newspaper that she was flying out to Phuket – recognized as a world leader in “sex reassignment surgery” – to take the final step into femininity at a cost of over 534,760 baht.

Easy enough for Stefanie, an architect in Sydney, but what about the typical Thai ladyboy?

With employment options often limited for those of the third sex, one ladyboy in Bangkok recently turned to crime to raise the funds needed for the surgery.

Unlike the rogue ladyboys who prey on foreign tourist through drink-drugging, pickpocketing and other means, this ladyboy targeted temples in and around metropolitan Bangkok.

Her actions were brought to light when officers at Sam Rong Tai Police Station in Samut Prakan were tipped off that Sirisak “Tom” Ngamphanit, 22, was a drug user who had obtained by deception a large amount of religious artifacts from local temples.

Police arrested Sirisak in Sam Rong Tai and took her to the station for drug testing. Sirisak’s urine tested positive for the presence of illegal drugs, police reported.

Officers then set off to search Sirisak’s room in Bangkok’s Lat Krabang area. There they found brass gongs, meditation rugs for monks and many other articles from various temples – all still inscribed with the temples’ names.

Under questioning, Sirisak admitted that the paraphernalia had come from more than 20 temples, most of which she could not remember the names.

Sirisak told monks at these temples that she wanted to hold a religious ceremony in her house and asked to borrow the necessary equipment from the temple. To demonstrate her good faith, she gave the holy men a false name, address and telephone number. She then sold the items in secondhand shops in Bangkok’s Prawet area and spent the proceeds on drugs – as well as saving up for her sex change operation.

Ten monks representing 10 temples came to the police station to claim the goods seized.

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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