The Thunderbirds

A hushed murmur floats through in the makeshift bamboo hall. Whole families have bought their tickets and taken their seats for a once-a-year, eagerly awaited, performance. Children’s eyes sparkle with anticipation when a female voice announces the beginning of the show. The music starts, the red curtain lifts and the first star of the night appears on stage. Tall, slim, elegantly dressed and perfectly made up, she is beautiful. The audience is captivated by her uniqueness. For the woman on stage is no ordinary woman. She is part of a group of transsexual itinerant performers.

The Thunderbirds have been performing around Myanmar since 1968 as an eagerly awaited part of festivals that are held in the country’s provinces. The group was founded by David, who created The Thunderbirds out of necessity. As performers, they have found a niche where they can freely express their identity within Burmese society, and they are admired for their beauty and talent. And as individuals, they have found a home, a family.

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