Bee, Bangkok

My real name is Thanakorn Poungploy but my nickname is Bee. I am 32 years old, from Rachaburi in western Thailand. Some people accept my being a lady boy. I have felt like this since I was a child.

Every lady boy’s dream is to be just like a real woman, with breasts and female sexual organs. I dreamed of saving money for the operation when I grew up. But when I finally saved up enough money for the operation, my dream was shattered. The transgender operation was impossible … because I have HIV. My boyfriend at the time was an injecting drug user. And I was a sex worker. So I never knew for sure how I got HIV. In the end, I only did the boob job.

For a time, I felt very down. I used to have nobody with me. My Dad and Mom didn’t want anything to do with me because I’m transgender and HIV-positive. My parents have now passed away.

When I first entered show business, I started as a dancer. Then I got to be one of the lead lip-synch performers. The first song I lip-synched on the stage was “Miss Saigon.”

Most people think that a dancer’s life is exciting, wearing all those wonderful costumes. I worked as a show dancer and sex worker at the same time. Sex work is the easier way to earn money. I’ve never seen a job ad for a lady boy, though the lady boy situation has become much more open now than it used to be. For example, flight attendants can be lady boys now. As for military service, in the past they always identified lady boys as mental misfits. Now the policy has changed to identify lady boys as people who inhabit their gender differently from when they were born. I want to use my life as an example to newcomer lady boys, that they should be extra careful.

I have to thank Through Positive Eyes for inspiring me to do a photo shoot together with my boyfriend. Even though I have been with this boyfriend more than three years, we’ve never had a photo taken together. My favorite photo is of my boyfriend, Koh, holding the light. He takes care of me. He has inspired me to become a more beautiful person inside.

It made me so happy and proud to be a lady boy when a real man asked me to marry him. I keep this wedding photo to be displayed at my own funeral, in case one day something happens to me. This photo will show that I was beautiful once.

Sometimes I feel despair. I feel lonely. I feel like my life is at a crossroads. It’s hard to be different from others. But am I afraid? At first I was so scared of HIV, but once I got to know and learn about it, it wasn’t that scary anymore.

About Through Positive Eyes

Through Positive Eyes [] tells the story of HIV/AIDS at the end of the third decade of the epidemic, when potent antiretroviral medication has been devised, but when treatment access is far from universal. Through Positive Eyes is an attempt to address key themes of the AIDS epidemic: widespread stigma, extreme social inequality, and limited access to lifesaving medication. The project is based on the belief that challenging stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS is the most effective method for combating the epidemic—and that art is a powerful way to do this. HIV-positive people take part in this unique initiative, creating powerful personal photo essays. From these images, we create local and international advocacy materials including exhibitions, short films, and website. Read more about Through Positive Eyes at

View a selection of the stories from around the world:

Explore Through Positive Eyes Explore all videos
Back to top