Cassandra – interview with a Bencong

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In Gethsemane: Transcripts of a Journey

© Mark Ulyseas LE Mag Inaugural Jan-Feb 2010
Cassandra. Photograph by Mark Ulyseas

Contemporary society is unrelenting. It is like a juggernaut that often crushes individuality and smothers the voices of the meek, usually sidelining Nature’s genetic goof-ups, like the Bencongs (girly boys) in Bali: Boys who at a young age suddenly find themselves confronted with the reality that they are in effect ‘female trapped in male anatomy’. The memories of the growing up years imprison the hideous humiliation of being beaten by the boys in the school yard and shunned by the girls who viewed them as freaks of nature. They stumble through the labyrinth of social stigmas, ostracized by a society hell bent on maintaining a semblance of ‘normality’ (whatever this means). Cassandra, the Bencong who I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing, is a female in all respects except for the appendage of masculinity, preferred to be called a she and took umbrage every time I mistakenly addressed her as him.

© Mark Ulyseas