Teen transvestite gets Bhutan thinking about sex

THIMPHU Tue May 13, 2008 3:02am EDT

THIMPHU (Reuters Life!) - In Bhutan, the men wear gowns and often carry women's names, but this has not stopped a teenage transvestite from causing a stir by publicly coming out in this tiny, secluded Himalayan kingdom. Names in Bhutan are often androgynous and all men wear a knee-length dress called the gho while women wear the "kira", an ankle-length gown.

But society's attitudes towards sex remain very conservative, which is why 16-year-old Dechen Seldon's decision to publicize his desire to become a woman has set the nation talking.

Seldon walked out of his school a month ago because he did not want to wear the gho as required, the weekly Bhutan Observer reported recently.

"It makes me feel awkward. If they let me wear the kira, I will continue my studies," he said.

Seldon resumed his education in another school last week after the education department intervened and allowed him to wear a girl's uniform. He also dances in a local club and spends his spare time weaving clothes for this friends.

He told the newspaper that he hoped to save enough money for a sex-change operation.

Officials told the Bhutan Times that Seldon was undergoing counseling to ensure he was comfortable with is new sexuality.

"We are counseling him so that he can decide what he wants and know what is important for him," an education ministry official told the newspaper.

Some in Bhutan said Seldon's case was yet another sign that the conservative nation was tentatively opening up.

Bhutan held its first ever parliamentary elections in March, to end a century of royal rule. Internet came to the country along with television just nine years ago.

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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