In Cambodia, there’s a third gender — frequently called “lady boys” — that falls somewhere between male and female. By all appearances and mannerisms, they’re female and identify as such though born male; most haven’t undergone any sex-change operations.
Ani was born male in 1985 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Since she can remember, Ani identified herself as female though it wasn’t until she was 18 that she began cross-dressing as one. After the death of her mother, and abandonment of her father, Ani felt the responsibility to economically support her three younger sisters. She moved to Siem Reap, opened a beauty shop and started renting a room with her sisters, brother-in-law, niece and friend. The beauty shop was not enough to support the family, which led Ani to explore other areas for economic support. She began offering herself as an erotic masseuse, in other words, a sex worker, which she does discretely without the knowledge of her younger siblings. Ani lives a double life. When at home, she plays the role of a mother, a sister; a caregiver. At night, with make up and glam, she does the work of many women, who live in poverty, in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Though Prostitution is technically illegal in Cambodia, it is said that it has become a "fixture of urban life".