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Thai ladyboys: who are they?

Thailand has a large population of Ladyboys and primarily this article is intended for those who are just becoming familiar with a ladyboy concept and want to get some more information about them. While guys who have been to Thailand several times and had an opportunity to get to know them better don’t need to think much about who the ladyboys are, to those who are completely new to the ladyboy topic – it might take some time to figure out what the “third gender” is.

What do we understand by the term ‘ladyboy’

While we are used to call people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth ‘transgender’, this word is not commonly used in Thailand or Philippines. For Thais, it is more customary to use the word ‘kathoey’ which has Khmer origin and refers to intersex individuals or Thai trans women. It’s needless to say that Thailand has the biggest population of ladyboys in the world. Definitely transgender ladies can be seen also in the nearest Asian countries, especially in Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia etc. But their number is considerably inferior to Thai population. According to the statistics, one hundred Thai men account for one ladyboy, and it’s pretty large proportion.

Why so many ladyboys in Thailand?

Such a big number of ladyboys is conditioned by the historically established society’s tolerance towards them. Thailand is the only South East Asian country which has never been colonized that’s why its culture that implies the presence of third gender has remained mostly untouched. Unlike more puritanic western principles, Thais have more relaxed attitude to sex, and they are used to show respect and not to interfere in other people’s private life. That’s why if a boy likes to experiment with makeup and demonstrate some feminine behavior, that wouldn’t be considered as a curse for the whole family. It’s the other way around, being practically the main attraction for touristic flow, ladyboys are so popularized that you would basically see them everywhere.

Ladyboys are real pop stars in Thailand: they take part in TV shows, starring in movies, and the main beauty pageant Miss Tiffany’s Universe gathers millions viewers every year. In this way, they serve as a role models and inspiration for Thai boys.

Besides that, SRS (sex reassignment surgery) is advertised here in every possible way: in newspapers, magazines, on websites.

Let’s not forget also about religion which plays a key role in formation of public consciousness. According to the values of Buddhism, Thai culture implies also beliefs in Karma and destiny which also explains such tolerant attitude toward ladyboys.

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