Interview with a transgender Burmese make-up artist
Although the society is getting freer and more open than before, Myanmar society has great difficulties to accept gays, lesbian or transgender. However, we see many of them who strongly survive and stand happily and successfully in such a society in spite of being unaccepted. Most of them are make-up artists who support the beauty of very famous celebrities of Myanmar. These days their roles are also getting essential in the entertainment industry. Among those make-up artists, some underwent surgical procedure or surgery, whether part of their face or body or gender.
Regarding himself as a “She Male”, make-up artist Ma Htet had his breast operated to look like a charming beautiful lady. He used to be called Ko Okka Htet before. He is the one who got recently popular on Facebook in Myanmar because of her sexy and cute photos. And he is also trying to have his gender operated to become a woman. Since he is still with a man’s body in a woman’s mind, it is more appropriate to call this process transgender. Here we will present what and how he mentioned about his lifestyle.
Irrawaddy Magazine: What do you think is the reason of getting that much interest from the public recently?
Ma Htet: That’s not very special. Anyway, I am glad to be noticed and accepted. Maybe that’s because I try harder than before.
IM: How do you feel about being a transgender in this country, Myanmar?
MH: That’s simple. Just try to be happy and survive with what you are given in life. I did not make it on purpose. I don’t mind those who can’t accept me. I will try to create my life in the best way. It’s joyful when some people support me while I am trying to achieve my goals, not only they accept my profession but also who I am.
IM: What’s your feeling about people from the same gender loving each other?
MH: It’s clear that no one can control his or her emotion. People from the same sex may love each other. That’s not natural though, as you know, I regard myself as a woman with a man’s body. So I openly say that I want to have sex with a man. I am sure every gay loves to have it. If we can find a way, whatever it takes, life will be very beautiful after we could struggle and overcome life among pessimists and those who think we are against nature.
IM: What do you want to say about Myanmar society still not accepting gays or transgender?
MH: It depends on the country and its culture. Very religious people and those who follow strict rules of traditions will not accept this situation. I know this is against the nature. Everyone has his or her opinions, but I won’t say they are wrong. I prepare myself to live happily in the environment that accepts me. That’s what I have to live with.
IM: What makes difference between a man called Okka Htet and a make-up artist called Ma Htet?
MH: I used to pass time as a gay before, but a gay who wore as a man. Now I beautify myself as a She Male. And I make myself look good and graceful. I need to be more careful as I live in Myanmar.
IM: We found out that you frankly reply some comments on your Facebook. For example, someone says “oh is it a heavy gay?” And you say “Yes, I am a real gay”.
MH: Yes, I do so since I can accept myself as a gay. And it wasn’t that I wanted to become gay just after I grew up, it was innate. I can accept somehow, as well as cannot sometimes. When I started being able to accept it, I tried hard to balance the situation. That’s not a shame on me. That’s not that I steal or rob. I am confident so that I reply people’s comments openly and honestly. I don’t feel anything wrong or special.
IM: Please let me know how effective it was for you to undergo surgery.
MH: Yeah, as I behave and wear as a lady, it really is effective. I gained more confidence and beauty. Although it’s fake, I am more beautiful than before, and I can’t find words to say how much I am happy when my beauty impresses even the ladies.
IM: How long ago have you had your breasts operated? Do you feel comfortable with it?
MH: It’s been for a year. I do feel very comfortable. I figured out the best and safest hospital before I underwent operation, then a good doctor. As I did it very carefully, the result’s quite satisfactory. I can live this way throughout my life. It should be fine forever.
IM: You mean you are more confident after taking surgery?
MH: Of course. Plus, my business gets wider and more popular as people appreciate and love my beauty. I can’t afford to advertise my business that much. I do appreciate those who accept me and my career.
IM: You are willing to get your gender changed, aren’t you?
MH: Right! That’s my dream. I am only waiting to have enough money to do so. I already figured out how much it will cost and which hospital is safe. I’ve been saving money.
IM: What if you do it?
MH: After doing it, I cannot move and be active for about 6 months or a year. So if I consider my current business, I need to wait for a period of time rather than doing it right away, as I would like to.
IM: Can we say you will be the first one in this case in Myanmar?
MH: Not necessarily. I heard that there are some already. I am not sure whether they are not interesting enough or they don’t want to let people know it.
IM: I’ve heard that it’s impossible to get gender operated after you grew up, is it true?
MH: No. You can.
IM: How about your parents’ opinion?
MH: Mom asked me what if I died during operation. That’s simple, if I die it means that I had to die. I usually think over and over before I decide to do something I want to. I never give up or regret. Even if I was wrong and I will suffer, I am not afraid. I am really determined, in this case especially and even more.
IM: Then when are you supposed to have transgender operation?
MH: My dad still doesn’t agree on it, he wants me to do it the year after the next. But I want to have it done next year, before I get old, before I am 35. I am now 32. As far as I know, it can be done even when you are 40 already. That’s not a problem.
IM: Before you have your breasts operated, what did you have to do?
MH: I had to take hormone pills. The doctor said pills will change me into a lady shape. And I had to take some tests. Then I wear as a lady straight away.
IM: What do you want to say to those who comment for your sudden change?
MH: Nothing. That’s their right to criticize.
IM: So, are you happy with your present life?
MH: Of course I’m. I can do what I want to.
IM: What do you want to say to people?
MH: Thanks for those who advised me and accept me as a She Male. And I wish people in Myanmar could be flexible and treat gays and transgender as human beings.
Article translated from Irrawaddy Magazine by the Mingalapar Forum team