Sunday, November 23, 2014

Isn’t Ladyboy A Bad Word?

In the Thailand the words: ladyboy & kathoey are something many aspire to become. Transgender is a new and Western word. It’s not in popular use.

My opinion on this matter is based on a small sample of women I’ve spoken to over the course of 10 years on about 5 trips to Bangkok & a single trip to Pattaya (Ladyboy capital of the World). Many of the ladyboys I’ve talked with have a different agenda than most Western Trans women I’ve met.

Ladyboys want to sparkle, glitter and shine. They strive to be noticed and want to be appreciated.

What Does The Term Ladyboy Mean?

Someone born as a male who either desires to be or wishes to look female. Some ladyboys want to have full affirmation surgery to remove any trace of maleness while others revel in the dichotomy of retaining their original parts and energy.

Whether they need or want full affirmation surgery is up to them. But some women decide to wait on surgery so they can maintain their employment as a ladyboy in the clubs. Many clubs fire women who have had affirmation surgery (top and bottom surgery) because they no longer fit the definition of ladyboy (having breasts and a penis).

How Can You Tell A Ladyboy From A Woman?

Ladyboys are women… I want to say period end of story but that won’t foster understanding.

Some articles will tell you to rely on physical markers: height, larger hands and feet, large breasts and gorgeous appearance. But for me the shell of our bodies rarely tell us anything about the person. I tend to look beyond to the essence of the person. The ladyboys I met and watched perform have an energy that was magical. They embraced both their male and female energies. Some allowed both to reside within them and in others the male energy has vanished. But within any group there are individuals so you can’t paint everyone with the same brush.

In Illusions & Dreams I shared two characters both of whom could be seen as ladyboys from the standpoint of Thai culture (if not the club rules). Boon-nam is all girl. She’s sweet and adorable to the extreme. Boon-nam craved affirmation surgery (complete top and bottom surgery). Her outside needed to match her inside so she could live a happy and full life. Her best friend Lalana is completely different. She is elegant and feminine but she retained all of her parts and resisted any suggestion of surgery beyond breast augmentation. On occasion she allows the small part of her that retains male energy to come out. She enjoys using her strength to pin her lover against the wall and at times in her own mind she thinks of her clitoris in male terms. She’s proud to be a ladyboy and won’t be changed by anyone.


People have sexualized ladyboys and transgender people... and sadly still do. It’s not surprising people hesitate to say they fancy ladyboys or someone who is transgender over the cisgendered (someone who is the gender matches their body).  People automatically assume the person is looking to get off on someone they fetishize. The censure someone who is trans-oriented receives almost guarantees to lock him or her into a closet where only his or her baser needs can be fulfilled. Some people are simply attracted to individuals who find this unique dichotomy of male and female energy. And yes there’s a sexual component to being trans-oriented the same way there is to being gay, straight, bi but as with any orientations that’s not the only enticement to find someone who calls to you.

I hope we open the trans-oriented closet door soon. The more we accept ourselves and others… the happier this world will be. 

In case you want to have some Bangkok adventures yourself without getting on a plane you might try: 

Hugs, Z.


  1. I really liked the part of this article about ladyboys in Thailand, very interesting.

    I know the whole trans-oriented thing is a big hot button issue in the trans community, and mostly I can only speak to it from that perspective. I know a lot of trans women have argued that if some of the stigma was taken away from being attracted to trans women the amount of violence trans women face might be decreased. They also feel that if the stigma was taken away from cisgender men being attracted to trans women those cisgender men might be able to more easily educate themselves on trans issues.

    I think another issue for trans people is that we, especially trans women, have faced a long history of being fetishized and sexually objectified in really violent ways. Also cis people who hold significant power and privilege over trans people and I think that's something all cis people who are attracted to trans people need to understand. I think this is an issue for any cisgender people who is interested in being romantically/sexually with a trans person but I think this is especially true for cis people who are particularly oriented towards trans people. I think they really need to do a lot of self questioning about whether this is a healthy attraction or if they've just been taught to think of trans people as exotic. I know if a cisgender person was interested in having a relationship with me as part of being attracted to trans men over cis men I would really want to know why. For instance I have known cis women who are willing to date trans men but not cis men because trans men aren't *really* men and that feels pretty skeezy to me.

    I think trans people being attracted to trans people is a totally different ball game because a lot of these issues of power and privilege either change or go away. In my experience, and I could be wrong, both the outside world and the trans community doesn't really have a problem with trans people being attracted to other trans people.

    So I think primarily the stigma attached to trans oriented people is cis people being attracted to trans people. And I think there are real legitimate reasons for that, at least from within the trans community. So I think it's complicated and there is a lot at stake.

    Ultimately I think cis people being primality attracted to trans people isn't wrong, but they are probably going to have a hard time proving to the trans community that their intentions are good. But given what the trans community, at least in this country, goes through I think that's fair.

  2. Great info! Very interesting and informative! Hugs <3