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Life

Myanmar's 'tomboys' stride out of the shadows

In a once-closed society, pioneers embrace their gender identities

Paing Soe San, 24, models a Burmese traditional male longyi. He says he is proud to identify as a trans man. (Courtesy of VK Photography Burma)

YANGON -- In seventh grade, at school in a small town five hours’ drive north of Yangon, Jel Li developed a crush on another girl. Confused, she wrote her feelings down, but then burned the paper. “I felt I was abnormal. … I didn’t know what was happening to me,” said Jel Li, who has now adopted a transgender male identity. “Every day, I hoped I would change.”

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