Plants grow from the soil, and although there are some challenges like weathers, bugs, and more, plants can still grow and blossom into wonderful flowers. Metaphorically, these changes and growth also illustrate our human life. Dressing with a beautiful and cozy dress, Khim Syvath or her favorite nickname as “Rose” has never thought that she would overcome all obstacles and challenges in her life to be who she really is today.

Rose, APTBY

She was born and raised in Siem Reap in 1994 and has been living there for almost 25 years. Rose has fought so much in her family, especially with her father to not become a military but to pursue her dream working for Thai or Chinese embassy in Cambodia with her degree in International Relations at Panhasastra Univeraity (Siem Reap Campus). “If I was not given the scholarship opportunity, I would have been forced to become a military as he and my brother did” said Rose.

As the third son among 5  family members, Rose has never been satisfied with her natural body. “I was born in the wrong body,” said Rose with a thoughtful face. “My father’s biggest dream is to see me follow in his footsteps as a military as my 2 elder brothers did, but I cannot change the reality in me” she was quiet for a moment and took a deep breath. In the family, she has always suffered from bullying and insults when she acted like a girl or dressed like a drag queen. “My brothers always hated me and sometime threw the pillow to me just because I dress and make up like a girl”

“My mum is always the biggest support for me ever since. She knew I wanted to dress as a girl so she never stopped or threatened me yet providing her warm care in terms of hugging and combing my wig very gently” said Rose. She somehow remembered that there was a time when her parents had big augments because her father believed that what her mother did was troubling their son’s gender identity. “This is my nature and I cannot reject the truth in me and if you want to change me then you are just against nature” Rose exclaimed when talked about her past life with her father.

However, there are such people in her life that appreciate for who she really is. Her teenagehood in the primary school was also a sweet memory to Rose when her teacher knew that she spent all the money to buy the wig instead of extra class but her teacher did not say anything to hurt her feelings and was just glad to see her happy in the way she wanted. Rose continued “My mum and my sister always taught me to cook and clean and treat me as I am their lovely daughter and younger sister in the family.That is super sweet!”

Rose definitely decided to make her dream come true by becoming a trans woman when she immediately graduated from her high school. It needs a lot of cost and effort for her to go abroad to see a professional doctor for surgery and lower her testosterone hormone to get the body she wished to see for a long time. Of course, it was not really easy for her. The first challenge is her family and people around her as they judged this crucial decision. She remembered how her neighbour laughed at her and thought she was going insane by just becoming a transwoman. “They laughed at me. They stared at me. And then gossip about me that I was losing my mind as hell. But then do I really care?” said Rose with a beautiful smile. She continued “This is my body and I own it. I can do whatever I want and dress in the way I like it to be. That is what I counted as a true HAPPINESS”.

When talking about her future, she seemingly showed her impression about getting an ordinary family as everyone does. “In the upcoming future, I want a family with two children and a nice husband who will take care and love our family” said Rose. She also has business plans which focus on local products such as vegetables, handicraft, and traditional food to support local people and the economy. As her current job is being postponed due to Covid-19 pandemic, she is now taking chinese beginner class in the evening and also improving her Thai language which she always believes that one day her dream will come true and to work in the embassy. 

“I really truly appreciate a person who with no doubt always by myself and be there for me all the me” Rose smiled and continued “and SHE IS ME” Rose looked to her forearms and smiled again. “I am Proud to Be who I am”.


This article is written by Sean Vanna, a 1st generation participant of Story Corner 2020 which aims to break the stigma on LGBT+ through storytelling and the engagement of youths through dialogue and series of training on gay rights advocacy and basic journalism. Story Corner 2020 is hosted by Buzz Talk Cambodia

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