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Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip: I am very happy for India’s LGBTQIA community
When you look at 39-year-old Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, the tall, pretty and stylish CEO of one of the biggest media distribution companies in the world, it is hard to imagine that she was Andrew for most part of her life. Today, she might be counted among the wealthiest transwomen in Southeast Asia, but it wasn’t an easy journey. Anne, who is the sole broadcaster of Indian dramas in Thailand, says that it took her 35 long years to overcome her fears and come out to her parents.
THE BATTLE WITHIN
The self-proclaimed fan of India, who visits Mumbai often, tells BT, “I grew up in a Chinese family in Thailand, who never accepted the LGBTQIA community. So, I had to hide my true identity from my parents and the rest of the family. Since I was the only son, I was treated like a gift from God. In reality, however, I was their daughter who was born in the wrong body. At the age of 12, I was raped by my teacher and I had asked myself, ‘Why?’ In the boy’s school where I studied, I was the weird one. When you stand out from the crowd, people take advantage of you; they harass you sexually, mentally and even emotionally. Finally, I realised that I had to be better, successful and smart in order to survive and live a life based on my own choices. So, I pushed myself harder and ended up securing the number one spot in everything I did. I became the captain of my school and a public speaker.”
She adds, “Once I grew up, I asked my dad if I could go abroad for higher studies, to get away from a society that didn’t understand me. I moved to Sydney and while living there, I used to dress like a woman. I sported long tresses, wore make-up and used to dress up in beautiful clothes every day (laughs!). However, before returning home, I cut my hair short and looked like a professional young man to fulfil my mom’s wishes. Then, at the age of 35, I finally came out to my dad and he was shocked. The very next day, I left home and didn’t talk to my parents for four years.”
Anne says that her only support was her sister. She shares, “My sister followed me and we started a business venture. It turned out to be a success and I became the first transwoman CEO of Asia. They also call me the first transwoman billionaire, which is cool (laughs!).”
‘BE HONEST with YOURSELF’
Anne is aware that she is an inspiration to many, who are trapped in a similar situation. Ask her if she has a message for such people and she replies, “My message to all those fearful people out there is, keep working towards achieving your dreams and trust your timing. Only you know when the time is right for you. Different people choose different paths (to come out), but at the end of the day, you have to be honest to yourself and to those around you. Please live your own life and don’t be afraid of what others might think.”
She is extremely hopeful about the future of the LGBTQIA community in India, especially after the Supreme Court’s historical verdict on Article 377. “I am very happy for the community. This step means that they are being accepted and acceptance, in any form, is always a welcome change. My only advice to the community is, educate yourself so that the level of discrimination against you perishes. The next step, both for Thailand and India, is to educate transgenders and after gender reassignment, they should be given the right to use their new-found identity on paper. I am still using Mister on my passport,” she signs off.