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Love, sex, and ladyboys

Devon Wong

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What’s the dating scene like for Filipino transgenders? How do the ‘ladyboys’-- as the transgenders are called -- find love in the time of social media?

MANILA, Philippines – What’s the dating scene like for Filipino transgenders?

How do the ‘ladyboys’– as the transgenders are called — find love in the time of social media?

Devon Wong reports.

They say love makes the world go round, but finding the perfect partner is no easy feat.
Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and then there are the transgenders.

It’s complicated. Just like our lives, very complicated

Transgenders, or ladyboys, say dating has its extra challenges.
Everyone’s looking for love, but ladyboys also have to defy social stigma.
It takes a certain open-minded man.

I don’t care how you define me, I don’t care how you categorize me, but what matters most is you are going to respect me as a human, at least, as a human.

It’s an issue that hits close to home for Cyril and Maki.
With a limited dating pool, they met each other as many couples do, online.

I come from a small town in France, where there is virtually no transgender women at all, so the internet was the only thing I had to figure it out.

It’s a personal advocacy for Cyril and Maki, who want to pioneer an online dating website for transgenders.

We would like to let people know that with, you can find genuine relationships. You can find someone who’s going to accept you for who you are.

Early tests show a huge interest from the online community.
Membership numbers are climbing, while Cyril and Maki take their matchmaking roles very seriously.

We have a very strict policy on it, like you will never see any flesh or any skin on the website. Nothing sexually explicit will be allowed. We are making it very tight, also, on the screening of the profiles. Every profile is screened.

Foreign men from across the world are setting up online profiles.
But Cyril and Maki know that looks can be deceiving.
Sex tourism in the Philippines is a growing issue that’s only recently being addressed at the national level.
This year, the Department of Tourism launched public policies to protect children from human trafficking.
It’s a step forward from earlier attitudes.
In 2011, US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. suggested that 40% of tourists coming to the Philippines were “sexpats”.
It was a comment that was quick to offend government officials who adamantly denied the statistic.
Cyril insists ladyboys are also unfairly targeted by sexpats because of local stereotypes.

Sex workers are the most visible. In terms of visibility, people tend to think, yeah, that’s the majority, but it’s not, it’s just the super visible.
By doing this website I want to help these men to accept it. To maybe not say no to happiness just because society said so, or friends said so, or the media said so.

The couple hopes to open the minds to transgender dating.
The website may be connecting virtual strangers, but after all, love is blind.
Devon Wong, Rappler, Manila.

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