LB, TB, LG, or Transgender

If you cruised around the Lesbians society in Cambodia, you would likely encounter constant mentioning of “LB”“LG”,“TB”. These trends sort of just caught on, and nobody knows for sure about the words’ origins, or their definite usages. As a part of this community from 2011 follow through to 2012, I will try my best to explain this.

The following paragraphs will each correspond to a term, its general usage, and its usage in Cambodian teenagers and young adult context.

 

LB, is mostly seen as the abbreviation of LESBIAN. According to Wikipedia, Lesbians are females who have romantic or sexual relationships with other females. One example of this is Ellen Degeneres and Portia De Rossi (they are married, and both are lesbians). In Cambodia, It is used to generally identify homosexual women.

Ellen Degenres and Portia de Rossi
Ellen Degenres and Portia de Rossi

TB stands for TOMBOY. Tomboy, by western definition is used to identify women who   exude the characteristics of a boy or the appearance of a boy. IT IS NOT A SEXUAL   PREFERENCE! A tomboy can be gay, or she can be straight. She can be attracted to a girl, a guy, or both. Whomever she’s attracted to, if she has the characteristic of a boy (such as the love to compete), or loves to dress like a boy, then she’s a tomboy.

However, when being applied to Cambodian context, it takes a distinctively unique turn. Since most of the very first Cambodian wave of homosexual females (happened in the last decade) were all tomboys. They all kept their hair short, wore boyish clothes, and generally referred to themselves as boys. It caused the misunderstanding that TOMBOY EQUALS LESBIAN. If you have your hair short, wear baggy jeans and a T-shirt on the street of Cambodia, brace yourself, you will be identified as “that lesbian girl”.

What about LG? LG has no general definition, meaning it’s our Cambodian original slang! While the term LG just caught on. My guess (and from the responses I have asked around) is that it represents the word “Lesbian Girls”. The origin and full term of the word is not so clear, though its usage is broad day-lightly clear. LG is used to identify LB’s girlfriends. Here’s the likely reason behind this term: LB is referred to as the “Lesbian Boy”, while  LG as the “Lesbian Girl” by some.  LG usually think of themselves as normal girls, who are in relationships with a boy when they are clearly in a relationship with an LB (who despite her manly appearance and characteristics, is still a girl). Most LG feel no differences when being in a relationship with a guy, or an LB. To them, they are all the same.

How about the not-so-popular term, “transgender”?  According to Wikipedia, a transgender is someone who is not satisfied with their sex. They feel like they are in the wrong body. They desire to be a boy, but is born to be a girl; or the other way around. Well. What about male transgenders in Cambodia? Now here is where it gets super tricky. The LG I mentioned earlier? Those that are LB’s girlfriends? They don’t typically identify themselves as a “lesbian”, though they are in a relationship with a girl, because to them, their LB lover is not a girl; the LG views the LB as a boy. Society, the LB’s girlfriend, and the LB herself view the LB as a guy.

 

Nick, one of the most iconic tomboy figure in Asia
Nick, one of the most iconic tomboy figure in Asia

 

Most of the lesbians here in Cambodia are tomboy, who wear boyish clothes and cut their hair short, who refers to themselves as boys and are super embarrassed when associating with girly activities. A friend of my brother’s (who wishes to remain anonymous) was an LB. She didn’t like going to girl’s restrooms, as a result of her great embarrassment. It’s as if she’s a guy who are embarrassed to step in a girl’s restroom. With all these characteristics, almost all of LB here in Cambodia are also transgender.

 

So to simplify it all, the terms LB, LG, and Transgender are used interchangeably in Cambodian society. The cause is likely due to the low level of awareness of our citizens on the gender issues.

The reality is that these terms are all mixed together. What do you think? Should we keep using them this way, or should we start raising awareness of the different gender spectrum’s and start using these terms by their true standards and definitions?

YDP Charity Trip

YDP Charity Trip

      If you followed the news, you would have heard about the tragic stampede happened in 2010 over Koh Pich Bridge (Diamond bridge), Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It happened on July, 22nd, 2010, on the very day of Cambodian much celebrated water festival. The bad omen sort of followed through, water festival was  canceled once and again in 2011 (mourning for the loss last year, duh) and 2012 (due to the flood).
      This year, it was yet again canceled (same old reason, the flood).
Using this opportunity, YDP (Youth Development Program) decided to organize a charity trip to Siem Reap province from 16th to 18th November, 2013. This trip was sponsored by non other than ACE,Room to Read CambodiaICA CambodiaUCITCRULE, and UHS. (if you are puzzled by all the acronyms, click on the link to know who they are! Blind dates!)
YDP Charity Trip logo
      The first day was devoted to travelling (we had to get up and meet at 6 o’clock sharp), and delivering our packages and books to the children over at HVTO (Homestay Volunteer Teacher Organization).
Homestay Volunteer Teacher Organization
      The second and third day were the real reasons why most of the participants joined, to visit the a dozen or so famous Khmer Temples at Siem Reap, renounced for their beauty and elegance.
      I have already been to the land of wonder (Siem Reap) for several times already, so i wasn’t THAT excited over the second and third day. The main reason I joined was that I wanted to know how sweet charity tastes.
So in this post, I am going to focus heavily on the first day of the trip, the HVTO visit. 
 
(Excuse me for not having enough detailed information, I didn’t care about any details since I didn’t intend to write about it)
It was maybe 10+ kilometers from the main road, the path was full of holes filled with red-brown mud and water (some as big as a lake, and i’m not even kidding). We were waved at whenever we passed a house full of playing kids. I bet they didn’t see big 25-seat buses crossing their villages that often; and the holes in the road sort of support my bet.
      We arrived at HVTO headquarter at around three o’clock. The kids were already lining up, waiting for us. Upon further questioning, we found out that they had been there since ten o’clock. I was a kid once, and i was forced on several occasions to wait for “the guests”. The notion that the kids were wasting their time waiting for us didn’t sit well with me.
      Just to be sure, I asked a young girl next to me if she was upset that she had to wait that long. To my astonishment, she said the kids AGREED no, DEMANDED to wait.
Nobody forced them. They were genuinely excited for our arrival.
      This has reminded me of how genuine country people can be as opposed to some (*cough-cough* most) sarcastic, whiny towns children.
      We spent over one hour playing some games and taught them some English words. Not that they needed any teaching; i mean, the little girl spoke much better English than some of my friends here in Phnom Penh city.
The kids over at HVTO and YDP organizers
      As the evening approaches, we began to feel fit to say our last words and bid the children good bye.
     Mr. Chun Serey, representative of all the village seniors who were absent due to their duty to over-see the construction of another building at the moment, expressed his gratitude to us.
He said this organization DOES receive funds from time to time (obviously), but this was the very first time CAMBODIANS were the givers. I am proud to be a part of this so.
Mr. Chun Serey speaking to the audience

“It was about time people who are more fortunate reach out to those who have less. We can’t always rely on foreign aids; it’s time for Cambodian aids.” -Chun Serey

Mr. Diep Sophal, a famous history lecturer and was the head of this trip, said a few words that still linger with me long after the trip (just as most of his invaluable words).

“ខ្មែរស្រលាញ់ខ្មែរ។ Khmer loves Khmer.” – Mr. Diep Sophal.

It’s this simple. The whole charity trip stems from the love we have for one another as Khmers. We are certainly not the first Cambodian to help our fellow Cambodians out, there are numerous others before us. However, it is still not enough.
I believe it is about time all of us who are fortunate enough realize our luck and reach out to those who have less by all means possible.

What about you? Have you reached out yet?