POPY, whose real name is Leang Sothea, is a 28-year-old gay performer who was discovered at what could best be described as a “Who wants to be Cambodia’s next transsexual star?” competition on TV3.
Having spent more than US$2,000 in Cambodia in early 2007 to have the breast surgery which thousands of women pay for throughout the world each year, she needed to go further in her quest for a female body and did not hesitate to spend nearly another $8,000 for a sex-change operation in Thailand in early 2008.
“Firstly, I was interested in the information about sex change in Thailand where many gays there have done it without any problems, so I decided to discuss this firstly with a doctor and then go ahead with the operation,” she said.
“At the beginning, my family would not allow me to have the surgery but I carried on with my attempt to do it by saving and putting together my own money.”
After Popy had a smooth transition into her female body, she was happy and not hesitant in telling all audiences from friends to those at work and others she performs to that she is not gay any more but after her surgery a woman just like any other.
Although Popy did not talk of her illness after surgery she worked hard on taking care of her own health.
“I had nothing to worry about my health, though there were a lot of rumors about my health and even my life,” she said.
“Nowadays, I do not have to take any more medicine or have any injections because the plastic surgery has worked in well and become part of my natural body.”
The beauty queen not only has the look of a pretty woman, but has also turned the concentration of her mind and spirit totally into that of an ordinary woman and one who is now able to fall in love.
Popy, who dates a 25-year-old university student, claimed there is a love that both share and which has the approval of both parents.
“Having learned his heart for more than a year, I know him well. We truly love each other and we cohabit like other couples in general.”
When she isn’t performing, Popy runs the Popy Beauty Salon in Tuol Kork district, and studies English at Pannasastra University in the evenings.
And in her business philosophy she always follows the saying, “Customers are the Kings”, a rule she will follow in earning money from those businesses so she can have a settled future as a new woman.