ACCEPT THE REAL ME, SEE MY CAPACITY—the true story of Laotian Transgender Woman


“This is video documentary about a Laotian transgender woman fighting for her rights and acceptance, equality in society. I will follow the actress making her life as a transgender PH.D student in the second country, Portugal.”


Inleusa Noel Basengkham, Laotian transgender woman suffered of discrimination and inequality and unacceptance as well as ignorance. She lived with the appearance as a man she did not want in life for more than 30 years. The year of 2014 completely changed her life after her sex transformation. However, she still faces the discrimination. How does she struggle her life to avoid the discrimination, promote the gender equity and fight for her rights?

  1. Title and setting:

The tittle of this documentary is Accept the Real Me, See My Capacity, and the setting is a small house in a silent peace city where there are a few famous universities in Portugal locate. The house is modest with the Lao style decoration/ design which remind people their hometown, especially their identity.

  1. Genre:

This is an observational documentary in which the camera will accompany the main character, sharing her situation and predicament with us. We attempt to simply and spontaneously observe lived life with a minimum of intervention. The documentary aimed for immediacy, intimacy, and revelation of main character in ordinary life situations.

  1. Main Character and other characters

The main character is 36 year-old- transgender woman, Inleusa Noel Basengkham, a strong and independent Laotian woman who has been struggling her life in the second country as a PH.D student in sociology. Her professors, neighbours and friends are mostly Portuguese and Laotian. Sometimes Inleusa shared her happy, hard times and story with them. She keeps in touch with her family via Skype, Facebook.

  1. Problem or predicament the main character faces

Inleusa is a transgender woman. Her inner personality did not match with her appearance, so life is overwhelming with strain, suffer, hardness and hopelessness. Sex transformation is her choice for life change. However, there is another challenge she has faced in life after the sex transformation. She faced discrimination, ignorance and unacceptance in society, which leads some people reject her real capacity and potential. She has to calm down and lives independently and fights for the equality and social acceptance. Luckily, she has family who always stand by her side and support her. Education is a pillar stone that can help her to fight for her right and reduce the discrimination.

  1. Main character’s drive (what she is trying to get, do, or accomplish

She wants to help transgender people to fight for equal rights, gender equity and social acceptance, so she and they can live equally in society. She wants her home country to accept LGBT people and their capacity and potential, so she can heal her past strains, come back home and start a career life in her hometown.

  1. Obstacles main character must overcome

 Inleusa is a transgender, so she is discriminated by people. She dislikes facing or meeting with people who ignore or discriminate her. Social discrimination challenges her when she is in Lao. Some people think that she has mental illness. That is why her capacity and potential are not seen by those people. Culture and tradition in Lao is also foremost challenge to her. Some people do not give value to transgender and treat them as an inferior. This brings her more concerns and requires her to be more active, intellectual person, so that she can change the people’ perception or their stereotype. Only thing that she can help transgender people now is to educate them and show them her real capacity—share her achievement, success and social contribution to her friends in both real life and virtual life.

  1. Changes the main character undergoes

Inleusa is workaholic to her research study and very much want to see the change in her country. She tries hard to share about the importance of education and promote education among girls and women or transgender people, less or more; she hopes that it will bring abstract change. The documentary will concentrate on the way Inleusa lessen discrimination by getting involved in society to contribute to social development, so whenever she hears something about “Transgender”, she hears only the positive things.

  1. Expected resolution or outcome of the film

Inleusa may not feel sad to be a transgender, but she might feel satisfied or proud when she can use her knowledge and experience to contribute to development of her society or reduce social discrimination towards LGBT. This is the way she can be proud of herself. Less or more, her activities can help; sooner or later, she can see the change in her country.

  1. Cinematic qualities that make the film special

Camerawork and editing will give me feeling of the way Inleusa sees and feels. There will be interview parts accompany with the footage of her daily activities and photos in past time. In early morning, People go to work as normal, while Inleusa wakes up early, cleans her house and makes up in front of mirror and dress smart as a woman. On the way, the camera will screen the activities she goes to market, buy some foods and then cook at home. Then she starts to do her school work, talk with her family and socialize with other people.

  1. Theme the film is handling

Accept the real me, see my capacity deals with social discrimination and gender inequity by breaking the silence and getting involvement with society to bring the better present and future for transgender in new generation.

  1. Premise underlying the film

Your voice can break the silence and draw the future path. Saying out is to let your voice heard and to bring present self- satisfaction and future the betterment.

  1. Why I must make this film

I had some friends who are gay, lesbian and also transgender. Few of them did not want to share me their story or accept their real them, just hide it. They said that when they show their real them, they felt painful because of the social discrimination, bullying and unacceptance. Some people do not recognize their potential or capacity since their personality and appearance are most seen. Some people stereotype that LGBT are inferior, weak or culture harmer. I talked with Inleusa and she shared her story to me that the way she can reduce social discrimination is to gain strong knowledge or be intellectual person as well have better job. I want her voice heard by people in Lao and abroad. One more thing, the angle of the story is not yet covered.

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11th International Human Rights Summit 2014

Brussels – Why do human rights mean to you? This was the question I always asked myself. When I could find the answer, I started to get involved with activities promoting human rights. Being a youth delegate to present human rights in Cambodia at 11th Annual International Human Right summit hosted by Youth for Human Rights International can help Cambodia people’s voice heard worldwide.

The summit conducted at the International Auditorium from 5th to 7th September, 2014 in Brussels, Belgium. Youth Delegates from 30 countries joined UN official, human rights representatives, human rights NGOs, religious leader and society at this Annual International Summit.


I attended this International human rights event, travelling the way from Portugal to represent my country. It was such an unforgettable memory in my life.  I met more than 200 hundred attendees packed the venue in the heart of Brussels with the purpose to learn more about human rights, specially the UN universal Declaration of Human Rights and to inspire others to become advocates for tolerance and peace.

Approximately 60 Youth Delegates and I accompany with Youth Ambassadors from around the world joined by local youth carried their flags side-by-sided during the opening ceremony of the 3-day summit including Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Cambodia, Colombia, Congo, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Liberia, Maldives, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, Netherlands, Russia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Ukraine, USA and Vietnamese Community.


Mistress of Ceremonies Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, Founder and President of Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI), welcomed the honored guests including UN officials and UN country mission representatives, human rights and religious leaders, NGOs, local community activists and the community at large.

Distinguished speakers from such countries as Bangladesh, Belgium, Cameroon, Colombia, Congo, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, Taiwan, Togo, Uganda, UK, USA and Yemen addressed the international gathering of youth. Celebrity guitarist and Koto player, Takatani HIDESHI from Japan opened the summit with his outstanding performance followed by performers from Argentina, Belgium, France, India, Italy, the Netherlands and Taiwan.IMG_4115

Waving my flag with the dignity, I felt proud and excited that I could join such a wonderful summit. I was able to share my work in Cambodia with the international community. I presented at the international summit and spoke about my work in Cambodia. I shared with the international guests that as a master student in multimedia who is able to bridge the information from the public to the government and vice versa and give a voice to the voiceless. Through my position as a former publication and communication officer at the Youth Resource Development Program, I used my journalism skills to critically analyze the political, social, and socio-cultural situations through various media outlets. I did volunteer work and educated local children in remote areas about the importance of education, hygiene and human rights.

In my final words I said, “My organization activities plus my work have helped instill within people the qualities of kindness, honesty, self-reliance and self-confidence so that they can become role models and contribute to social development, good governance, peace and justice.”

20140905YHRI-Summit-696I was inspired by the success stories of human rights young activist, youth ambassadors and youth delegates who have done great job in their communities forward human rights education.  A highlight of the event was the presentation of four Human Rights Hero Awards to delegations from Australia, Colombia, Mexico and Nepal for their work promoting Human Rights Education.

The summit sIMG_4184erved as the international platform for youth around the world to share knowledge and experience on human rights. I gained a lot of knowledge and experience from the summit addition to what I have learned from school and my previous working experience. I learned more about human rights in other developing and developed countries. I also learned how to conduct human rights projects, run campaigns, advocate and gather people for human rights education.

The 3-day summit included a full day peer-to-peer mentoring Human Rights Education Workshop, where the Youth Ambassadors shared their experiences and best practices with the new Youth Delegates to prepare them for greater expansion of their initiatives.

The International Human Rights Summit 2014 closing session was held on Sunday, September 7th, when religious leaders including Buddhist, Hinduism, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Theosophy, Scientology and many more gathered for the Inter-Religious Conference for Peace.


I had a chance to meet other participants, NGOs, representatives from embassies. We discussed something related to human rights and social issues in our countries and we also exchanged contacts for future work and cooperation. I was surprised when they asked me what they could help my people and what my people needed the most. It was such a kind and helpful question to me.Furthermore, through the discussion and socialization, I also learned about the culture, tradition, language, political and human rights situation in other countries. Overall, this knowledge and experience I gained from the summit really broaden my world perspectives and equip and prepare me well for my future work forward human rights in Cambodia. 


Founded in 2001, Youth for Human Rights International now has groups and chapters on all continents. Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, Founder and President of Youth for Human Rights International said: “These youth bring their own passions to Human Rights Education taking it to a whole new level by bringing the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights to their peers through creative ways such as murals, rap dances, walks for human rights, large concerts and out into the rural areas where resources are limited through plays depicting the 30 human rights. Human Rights Education is expanding exponentially.”

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My article was published on DEUTSCHE WELLE blog, Germany

Link to access the original article:

During the Khmer Rouge Genocide Regime from 1975-1979, freedom of expression and freedom of the press was totally prohibited. Cambodian people were not allowed to criticise the leader, share their opinions in public, voice their concerns, say anything related to politics or even complain; otherwise, they would be blamed or even worse killed. It was said, “Plant a Kor tree in front of your house” (Kor in English language means “Mute”). This was the sentence to alert people to shut their mouths or turn a blind eye if they wanted to survive.

After the Khmer Rouge Genocide regime collapsed, people still did not enjoy much freedom. Their freedom of expression and freedom of the press were still limited. In that time, Cambodian people used traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television as a mean for communication, education, information and entertainment.

When the new media emerged and more and more Cambodian people could access the internet, people began to have more space to connect themselves to society and start to actively get involved in politics. The Internet has enabled or accelerated new forms of human interactions, and people use the internet for different purposes, especially to exercise their rights and freedom. For example, they can get information from many sources without limitation (freedom of the press) and express their opinion and ideas, for or against others (freedom of expression).

Much of the freedom of expression has come through Facebook, which is extremely popular among youth in both cities and provinces in Cambodia. According to (2013), there are more than 1 million Facebook users in Cambodia. Facebook empowered Cambodians and provided a voice for a country that was previously silenced by oppressors and a government looking to keep them quiet.

Before and after the Cambodia National Election on 27th July, 2013, Facebook played an important role to promote political parties and seek support from the people. Some people and political activists work as citizen journalists, effectively democratizing media. They used Facebook to not only communicate, but also to share information, news, videos and social issues, many of which were not covered by the mainstream media. They went online to add to the political discussion by posting comments, posting pictures or video content online related to a political or social issues to express their ideas on the current political situation as well as to call for support or against the government.

New media gives the Cambodian people a chance to collect, discus and spread information about their lives, experiences and events. This was quite a contrast to what occurred previously, when it was difficult for people to express their beliefs either in public or through the media, when comments or ideas were censored.

Until recently there haven’t been many outlets where they could effectively exercise those freedoms. TVs in Cambodia are generally tied to political parties or industrial concerns; the press seems written less for the general public than for politicians and other insiders. With new media, however, people now have the ability to write their comments and opinions to reflect on the news. Some citizen journalists explore stories and share information ignored by mainstream media channels.

However, some citizen journalists preach their party line and support their current political party on new media. Sometimes these pieces of news are not balance and do not support the interests of the public at large. They create confusion amongst the people who are looking for more unbiased news.

Recently, a few non-profit organizations in Cambodia have become engaged in developing citizen journalism and they are promoting information ethics and enabling citizens to work with reporters to support investigations such as human rights violations, deforestation or corruption.

Overall, the introduction of new media into Cambodian culture has been a net positive. People have quickly figured out how to disseminate information that is truthful and is helping to educate an entire country about their human and social rights and to help them learn how to advocate on behalf of their communities. This information is spread quickly and also helps organize citizens quickly to help bring about change in our country.

Understanding how to use new media and evaluate their content is important to critical understanding and active participation, which are the basis of every democratic society. It is a great opportunity for me to join Global Media Forum 2014 to learn more about new media’s role and its impact on other countries. I will use this knowledge and experience to improve journalism in Cambodia and to help in the development of my country.

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Portugal—“Should I perform or not?” This was the first immediate question I asked my self when I participated in LOL CHAT NOIR.


LOL CHAT NOIR is one of workshops of Futureplace, school project of University of Porto, Portugal. This workshop required participates to perform to reflect how new technology affect citizenship and community belonging. Together participants will examine identity and community through applied theater and digital technology workshops.

My colleagues and I attended the workshop for several days. The first workshop is the orientation day coordinator asked us to join the group performance.  We joined hands to make triangle, flower, mountain…etc. We know a lot of techniques and skills of performance. The first lesson we learned was that we should not smile, laugh during the performance; we had to turn our face to the camera. Be alerted and rush and know our turn. If we mistaken something, just ignored it, kept going on.

The first rehearsal made me feel a bit confident for the upcoming performance. After the orientation,  we were required to work in group to discuss about the importance of social media. I worked in group with my colleagues  and other people from different faculties. We presented our ideas to the class, at the same time, we also got some comments.

This is just a first start which could not make me feel nervous. The next day, we developed our presentation into a script. It took us two  days to get the final script. We had to work in group again to invent the story. We also chatted with other friends online to get some ideas for our script.

With the coordination from Fadi Skeiker and Susan Gayle Todd, American and our involvement, our scripts were well-done. We all had to attend the workshop for three days more for rehearsal. This really frightened me!!!

LOL CHAT NOIR Team cheered and smile after the performance!

LOL CHAT NOIR Team cheered and smile after the performance!

I am shy person. I had ever performed when I was in Cambodia even though that performance could help me get some marks or  prize. I was not confident and brave enough to get involved.

When I am in Portugal, I try to adapt, learn something new and make positive changes. I told myself that I had to be strong and brave to do what I did not dare to do before. When I had a strong commitment, I decided to say “Yes I can do it”. I was worried many days since I was afraid that I could not do it well. I thought that I had to stand in front of many people and perform. I asked myself, ” How comes?”

My worry and nervousness pushed me to be well-prepared. When I was at home, I performed in front of the mirror and tried to rehearse my part again and again. What could help me move forward was that I got motivation and encouragement from my professor and both coordinators. They were so trustful on me. This gave me more energy and courage to try it.

The time passed by and the performance day arrived. I had some solutions to minimize my nervous and stage fright.  I tried to have enough sleep at night. Before I standed on the stage, I controlled my heart rate and did a little exercise by rubbing my hands together. I breathed deeply to relieve my stress. I also drunk water to prevent my mouse from drying.

During the performance, I was not so nervous, and shy as what I expected. I could perform and tried to ignored the audience. I performed as if I were at home alone. I did not dare to look at the audiences sometime. However, what was funny to me was that I forgot some sentence of my script. I knew it, but I kept moving with a little nervousness.

After performance finished, I heard audience clapped their hands loudly. This gave me and my colleagues inner power. We hugged each other with excitement and satisfactions that we all could do it.

I have learnt a lot from LOL CHAT NOIR. I can build my self confidence, performance skills as well as teamwork and collaboration with my colleagues.

For me, it is the first experience, yet it is not the last one. I will participate it again. 🙂

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Youth Movement for Climate Change Response By KIM Samath

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Youth Initiative Action on Khmer Rouge History by Kim Samath

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Journey for Peace Building of Inter-Ethnic Youth by Kim Samath

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