When Heng Ny laughs, hundreds of lines run across his face. Sitting in front of his simple house with cats and chickens at his feet, discussing his relationship is what brings out a smile. He and his wife seem like an average couple, but one thing is different: Ny is transgender. Although they now live peacefully in their home in Takeo’s Trapaing Sap commune, in Bati district, day-to-day life was not always easy.
“Her parents and her grandmother accused me of having put a spirit in her to make her fall in love with me,” he said. “They tried to separate us. They even brought her to stay one night at a sorcerer’s house.” The 50-year-old then broke into laughter before adding: “But she came back to me.” Not only did she come back, she built a family with him. The couple now have two adopted children.
While lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families often face discrimination in Cambodia, many couples with a transgender man manage to adopt children – either formally or informally – despite legal obstacles.
Legal recognition of their right to marry, and therefore adopt, is in many ways in the hands of commune and district authorities, a system that allows for flexibility, though it also leaves LGBT rights largely up in the air.
Once able to adopt, however, LGBT couples seem to experience a marked improvement in the support of families and communities for them, according to research released last year by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. Read more via Phnom Penh Post