t the fringes of southern Thailand’s largely Buddhist society is the small Muslim island of Ko Yao Noi. Though most villagers adhere to the rituals of the Islamic faith, there are some who are reinterpreting what it means to be a Muslim in Thailand.
High school senior Natthawut Peutchgarn, or “Tata,” identifies with his Islamic heritage but also lives on the periphery. On occasion, Peutchgarn trades his school-regulated uniform for flamboyant dresses to perform like Thai pop singer Tata Young.
By dressing like a woman, Peutchgarn is a Thai “katoey,” or ladyboy. Yet his community does not marginalize him. As Peutchgarn dances and sings at school assemblies, he is embraced by his Muslim society.