Twenty-one-year-old Muay Thai fighter Nong Rose Baan Charoensuk, who became the first ever transgender fighter to compete at Bangkok’s famous Rajadamnern stadium last month, has now won two consecutive bouts in the stadium’s storied Muay Thai fighting arena. In addition to winning in the arena, Rose has been winning outside of it as well. At her most recent fight against Karun “Priewpak” Kaemlam, a male fighter who ultimately lost in five rounds, the Bangkok crowd could be heard shouting and chanting her name throughout the fight.
“I wasn’t able to fight her strength and big build,” said Priewpak after the fight. “She fights like a man because she is really a man.”
In Thailand, where transgender women are often featured on television, beauty pageants, and at hair salons, many say that the country’s seemingly welcome attitude towards transgender individuals belies the reality that they live as second-class citizens. Rose, who was born Somros Polchareon and began boxing at age 8, said that she realized she identified as a woman at an early age. But when she initially tried to compete against opponents in the rural towns where she’s fought more than 300 fights, she says many refused to fight her because she preferred to wear makeup and a sports bra in the ring.
“They would say they didn’t want to fight with a gay person, as it would be embarrassing if they won or lost,” Rose recalled. “I still face those insults, but I don’t care about them.”
Despite the stigma, Rose has managed to become a popular and successful fighter — a feat cemented by her invitation to fight at Muay Thai’s legendary Rajadamnern Stadium.
“Everyone respects and adores her,” said Puttipong Plukram, the owner of the camp where Rose trains, adding that she has proved a “great role model” for other aspiring fighters.
“Being transgender doesn’t mean that we’re weak,” said Rose after her recent win. “We can achieve anything as well.”
Read the full story at Yahoo News.