Hermaphrodite wants to man up to be a monk
The New Paper
BANGKOK - Donning saffron robes is a dream he has yet to fulfil.
Like many other Thai men, Mr Kittaphak Duangchai, 30, from Lampang province in northern Thailand wants to be ordained as a Buddhist monk.
It is a rite of passage that symbolises a simple life of duty, purity and sacrifice, which would ultimately bring merit, as many Thais believe.
"I am doing it for my parents. I also believe that this will erase the bad karma that has befallen me," he tells The New Paper on Sunday through an interpreter in Bangkok.
But the seemingly simple act of filial devotion has become almost insurmountable for the boyish-looking young man with close-cropped dyed hair and a smattering of facial hair.
The stumbling block?
Mr Duangchai was born a hermaphrodite - he has both male and female sex organs. But, in Thailand, only males can become monks.
Despite growing facial hair and experiencing an enlargement of his penis at 17, he was told point blank that he could not join the monkhood.
He was 20 when the chief abbot in his home province Lampang - about seven hours' drive from Bangkok - told him that as he was registered a female at birth, he could not be a monk.
"I was heartbroken. It was hard for me because I didn't ask to be born this way."
Even though he was registered as a girl, he was raised by his parents as a boy.