They have many different names: ladyboy, kathoey (especially refer to transgender in Thailand), cross-dresser, transsexuals or transvestites. Kathoeys is more visible and acceptable in Thai society than transgender people in other countries around the world. It is, in that sense, very easy to meet a ladyboy in the street of Thailand indeed. Whether from watching the extravagant dancing beauties in a ladyboy show or even from a personal encounter in the local bars, you will get a lot chance to interact with them.
Thai ladyboys are well integrated into the life of the Thai people, many of whom work in airlines, cosmetics counters in high-end shopping malls, models, movie stars, and dance performances, and even play an important role in Thailand entertainment industry. No one looks down on them; moreover, some Thai women are even jealous of their perfect female face and nice hour-glass figure which are rarely seen in an original Thai girl.
However, many travelers are anxious about the girl smiling at them whether a kathoey or not. To reduce this risk, we have drawn up a simple guide for how to distinguish a real kathoey in Thailand.
Pay attention to these features of her body:
In general, Thai girls are not very tall, but almost all kathoeys are taller than average height. Thai women's average height is 157.3 cm (about 5 feet 2 inches), while Thai men's average height is 167.5 cm (about 4 inches taller than Thai women).
The big hand is impossible to change through artificial surgery. Of course, some women's hands are smaller and more feminine, but in general, most kathoey have a larger hand with longer fingers, although the finger knuckles are already smooth.
Forearm Length is another revelation of kathoey's original gender. Commonly a real woman's forearm is more elegant than a man's or a kathoey's. In the women's inner forearm, it will be easy to observe vein and muscle formation (bicep and tricep, etc.). Thai women often lack muscle formation in their arms even they exercise constantly.
Of the 10 men,9 are wider than women, especially in Thailand. An amazing lady with broad shoulders is almost certainly a ladyboy.
Pay attention to her face
Men or kathoey usually have a higher hairline than women.
Men or kathoey have a horizontal bone ridge above they eyebrows, while women's forehead is more smooth and flat. Women's eyebrows are often positioned higher, with more space between the eyes and the eyebrows.
Chin can be plastic, which will make your entire face into a slightly more "V" shape. But the cost of surgery is high so that only a few Thai ladyboy forwards to this stage. She might be a Thai ladyboys if her jaw line looks wide and a little chiseled.
Thai women's feet are usually very small, usually take around size 37 to 38. While that of kathoey usually are bigger than the average. If the feet are small, be careful of the big toes.
Pay attention to her voice
This is a tricky feature. Obviously, it hard to hide; that's why many kathoeys have surgery to shave it off. In view of that, the checkpoint is a bit unreliable.
In most cases, Thai ladyboys are given away by their masculine voice. Generally, kathoey will train their voice to be feminize. The tone may be higher than the man's voice, but it sounds a little strange. This seems to be an obvious male feature, but with an additional Thai accent barrier, this is not always the most accurate standard. The Thai accent in some areas is also quite harsh, so it may not always right unless the sound is significantly deep.
Pay attention to her behavior
Look at the way she makes up herself, walks, behavior with her arms or hands, especially over-enthusiastic floss with hair. In general, kathoey will walk the catwalk like a model even in daily life. A conservative Thai women behavior much more natural unless she is indeed a model.
Overacts a lot
It is far beyond what is necessary, usually in a loud, high-pitched voice. Things get worse when a kathoey is angry or upset, so we strongly advise not to quarrel with them!
It's always a fun fact. In Thailand, girls never go out without wearing a bra. If you see a Thai girl do this, especially combined with other points in this guide, there is the strong possibility that she is a kathoey. Obviously, this usually apply to kathoey who work in tourist places and bars. There are still a large number of ladyboys work in other industries. It doesn't apply to kathoey who work in shopping malls, and so on.
The Dress Code
Similar to the overacting point, kathoey is always dressing much more outrageously and more flamboyantly. Just like what I said before, many Thai girls are so envious of kathoey's beauty and figure. Obviously, kathoey also know people like them so they appear more self-confident.
Unfamilar with their hair
New kathoeys are always irritating with their long hair or wig because they are not used to it and are quite unconscious.
Pay attention to her location
Check the city maps you are visiting and talk to locals before you go out, especially in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. Most kathoey concentrates in and around tourist cities, such as the cites I listed just now. Check the location of your hotel before booking or talking with locals. For example, Soi 6 in Pattaya is known for having a lot of bars, where you can find lots of prostitutes while Soi 6/1, just a close distance nearby, is famous for its ladyboy bars.
Ask them directly
Thai society is quite open to this issue and it is not shameful to admit their kathoey identity. Of course, if you think they're not all women at first, some people may be unhappy. But if you ask cautiously and politely as soon as you get confused, everything will be fine.
The Final Check – ID card!
The born gender on your ID card will never change in any reasons no matter how feminine you are, or if you behavior just like a women in every aspect, or after some plastic surgeries, even a gender change operation. But unless you are already close friends or she doesn't mind, it may be impolite to require for someone's ID card for the first time. Watch the atmosphere!
In final, Thai culture is more complex than what the ladyboy already presented. Like the locals and open your mind and accept this unique culture! Different types of tourists see Thai ladyboys differently. Some people seek them, some want to avoid them or others even feel scared. However, Thai people are known for being very easy to accept them. Unlike other countries, it is not shameful to have a kathoey in their family. Ladyboy in Thailand have access to most professional fields. Hope this article could help you understand more about the unique ladyboy culture in Thailand. Be open with them, accept them and witness miracle culture when you travel to Thailand!
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