Kathoey, who are they?
Are you new to dating ladyboys? Has your fascination towards transgender women led to you, wondering what the word kathoey means? There are a lot of terms used around the world pertaining to transgender women. Today, you will discover the true meaning of the word and everything that goes along with it.
Please know that all the words and terminologies that will be discussed here are for educational purposes only. This was not created to offend transgender women, a group of people, or an individual.
What is Kathoey?
Kathoey is a colloquial term used in Thailand to describe a transgender woman. In the land of smiles, is used synonymously with the word ladyboy. Although ladyboy is a popular term used in the adult industry in the west to categorize Asian transgender women (particularly Southeast Asian and East Asian), ladyboy is a term that’s used of normalcy in the country.
Kathoey Word Origin
Kathoey, also spelled as Katoey, is a word of Khmer origin.
Although it’s a popular term that’s now synonymous with ladyboys, some people in Thailand still use it as an umbrella term to refer to effeminate gay men and transgender women.
A small number of them don’t use this word and prefer to be called phuying praphet song which translates to the second kind of woman.
The reason being is because they find the word unfit to be used for someone who’s identifying as a woman.
It is a Derogatory Term?
Kathoey is a word of normalcy in Thailand.
It’s not a derogatory term. The majority of Thai transgender women don’t find offense in the word.
However, some Thai transgender women of western upbringing and other Asian ladyboys may not find it appropriate.
If you’re planning to insert this semantic in a conversation, be very sure that you’re talking to a Thai transgender woman who had an upbringning in Thailand.
Are Thai Transgender Men also called Kathoey?
For Thai transgender men, a different term is used.
Tom-dee is an umbrella term that’s used to define Thai transgender men and butch lesbians.
Its origin comes from the word tomboy and the word dee (which means lady in Thai).
Do Thai people discriminate trans people?
Thailand society is very inclusive. Albeit its laws still don’t fully accept and dignify the existence of transgender women, its people are very respectful and amorous with them. In Thailand, transgender women get to enjoy almost the same opportunities that cisgender people experience.
The Thai government plays a big role in these advancements.
Many Thai schools are open to accepting transgender women. These institutions even allow them to wear women’s school uniforms and use the women’s bathroom. However, there are also establishments that have created a third-gender bathroom but these are not the norm.
Many of them are seen in the workforce. They work as:
- flight attendants
- office workers
Moreover, the country is tolerant because of its main religion, Buddhism.
Why are they so Beautiful?
Compared to their other Asian counterparts, medication and support for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are quite accessible in Thailand. The prices of the consultations and drugs that they use to feminize themselves are not as expensive as with other countries.
Added to that, in Thailand, a lot of transgender women start their transition at a very early age. Because Thai culture is tolerant, teen transgender women are not as inhibited in expressing their gender identities as their counterparts from different nations. This leads to the early suppression of male hormones and maximum feminization.
Furthermore, beauty products and cosmetic surgery in Thailand are also a lot cheaper compared to other countries. The beauty business amounts to a lot in terms of Thailand’s economy.
Thai ladyboys are able to get bigger breasts, remove their testicles (to get rid of masculinizing hormones), and facial feminization surgery for less than $1,500 each.
Do they only date Men?
Being a transgender woman is personal. It has nothing to do with who an individual is attracted to. There are a lot of lesbian trans women who are into kathoeys or cisgender women. However, the majority of them are heterosexual and exclusively date men.
Have Kathoeys undergone the Bottom Surgery?
The majority of them have not undergone gender reassignment surgery (GRS).
Although one could get an SRS for as low as $2,000, plenty of them still opt to keep their genitals.
This is a common misconception that people have because they look quite feminine and passable.
However, you must know that a transgender woman can achieve a very feminine and passable look granted that she’s undergoing hormone replacement therapy or she naturally has elevated estrogen levels.
Why do they still Work in the Adult Industry?
Even if Thailand has a lot of opportunities in the workforce for Kathoeys, there are still a lot of them are working as:
- street workers
- adult masseuse
- go-go girls
because of the lucrative earnings.
Bangkok is brimming with tourists which is advantageous for male and female body sellers. The going rate for a quickie with a kathoey street walker in the red-light district is 1,000 baht ($30). She can have numerous clients in a night because the demand is high.
A go-go girl and a courtesan can charge from around 5,000 ($150) baht to be taken out. The rate could become higher depending on the conversation between the client and the service provider.
As of 2020, the average wage of a Thai person is around 16,000 baht ($450~). It pales in comparison to how much an adult worker can make. Transitioning as a woman and living a certain lifestyle requires more funds and this is why a lot of them are still choosing to do alternative jobs.
They don’t only work in the adult industry. Some of them are living large as Thailand is full of popular kathoey celebrities.
Nong Poy is considered to be the first true kathoey celebrity. Her career in the showbiz industry is quite varied and does not live off novelty.
- a beauty queen
- a model
- a spokesperson
- a movie and tv drama leading lady
- and more
She also has numerous film credits that she has top-billed.
Like Nong Poy, Yoshi Rinrada is making waves in the entertainment industry because of her beauty.
- a model
- an actress
- a beauty queen
- has quite an impressive following on social media.
Often called the Thai trans woman billionaire, her name is slowly becoming a household name because of her wealth, beauty, and intelligence.
She is the CEO of JKN Global Media Public and she also owns several other businesses that attribute to her net worth.
She is a well-known Thai transgender model who is making waves on social media. With the news featuring her signing up for Thailand’s male military draft as a beautiful and young transgender woman, she became an overnight sensation.
Currently, she makes a lot of content, blessing her audience with her dollish and feminine looks.
Where to meet Kathoeys?
Bangkok has a lot of them. However, you may find them hard to spot most especially if you don’t encounter a lot of Asian transgender women in your country. You may see them working as:
- a saleslady
- flight attendant
- go-go girl
- performer in cabaret shows
- street walker
- room attendant
- or just about anywhere in the city
However, if you want to be sure, your best bet would be My Ladyboy Date. Our website is filled with gorgeous ladyboys across Southeast Asia, who are single and looking for their soulmate.
Other terms for Kathoeys that you could look up are:
- Transsexual woman
- Transgender woman
- Trans woman
- Tranny (derogatory)
- Shemale (derogatory)
- Newhalf (Japan)
- Hijra (India)
- Waria (Indonesia)
- Bakla / Bayot (Philippines)
- Travesti (Latin America)
We analyzed Google Trends data to compare the popularity of various terms that refer to transgender women in Asia and in the world. This is what we found out.