For the next two weeks, here on The Window we’ll be featuring profiles of the amazing individuals featured in our Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters campaign, shot in New York by the iconic photographer Bruce Weber.
Biographer and journalist Patricia Bosworth interviewed each of the 17 models, capturing a chapter of their edifying stories. Today, we introduce you to Peche Di, who is pictured above with her adopted mother Dorothy Palmer.
I was born in Bangkok, but spent my summers in Phuket—it’s the largest island belonging to Thailand off the Indian Ocean. During the summer we lived next to the beach and I developed a love for swimming. I remember swimming every single day of my childhood in a huge blue rippling pool.
As I grew older, I became uncomfortable having the body of one gender and the mind of another. I went to a boys’ school where I was teased and bullied because already I was singled out as being “different.” But I was a tough kid. I held my own. I was good in sports, which helped me blend in. On weekends, like many children in Thailand, I studied at temple. My weekends taught me to be disciplined and thoughtful. I learned how to meditate and that helped me become at peace with my differences.
My parents supported me when I decided to transition, but we didn’t talk about it that much. My father especially is a man of few words. As soon as I graduated from high school I grew my hair long and I started on hormones. It was such a relief to be able to express my femininity 100% of the time.
Hormones and reconstruction surgery are inexpensive in Thailand and the surgeons are among the best in the world. People travel the globe to come to Thailand for cosmetic surgery. I feel fortunate that I was in a place where it was relatively easy to make the transition from male to female.
After my transition, I moved to New York. New York is much more accepting and open to everybody and everything. In New York there is such freedom! Such energy. I’m at NYU studying film, but what I really want to be is an actress. I want to tell my story on film. Now, aside from going to NYU, I am taking acting classes at ACT OUT with Brad Calcaterra; he specializes in working with LGBT people.
I feel good about my life these days. I have a boyfriend. And I have my adopted mother, Dorothy Palmer—she’s an artist who found me when she was looking for somebody to be the face for her jewelry designs. Dorothy and I live near each other. We see each other all the time.
I got my biggest break in 2010 when I won the Miss Asia contest on December 19—my birthday. It was the biggest thrill of my life, until I worked with Bruce Weber. Being photographed by him in a beautiful high-fashion dress—I couldn’t believe it. My heart was pounding. The music was throbbing in the background. Bruce encouraged me to dance as he photographed me with all his assistants hovering around him and the makeup people and the hairdressers and wardrobe people… And I will never forget the feeling—there was music playing, pounding in my ears, and Bruce kept telling me to “Dance, Peche, go on dancing!”
I whirled around and around. I think I screamed for joy, and when it was over everybody applauded me. It was the happiest moment of my life. I felt affirmed.
Peche wears Marni. Dorothy wears her own clothes. Photos © Bruce Weber.