Phuying praphet song in Thai means ‘second kind of lady’ Throughout the world, Thailand’s ladyboys or kathoeys as they are rightly called can be seen everyday in all kinds of occupations here in Bangkok. As apposed to popular belief they do not all work in the entertainment industries. They are completely assimilated into modern day Thai society and work in shops, offices, garages and just about everywhere. Thais are very accepting of people and differences, kathoeys therefore, are not only accepted but in a strange way referred by Thai people. Most Thai girls will have ladyboys in their circle of friends and taxi drivers are all to ready to point them out and say, “Ladyboy, beautiful” at every possible chance. In Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand they recently built a huge new comprehensive school. The toilet blocks have girls, boys and kathoeys toilets, in a show of acceptance that is hard to imagine ever happening in The UK or The United States. That teenage children can accept gender and sexual differences is a remarkable demonstration of the lack of prejudice in this part of Southeast Asia.
Of course ladyboys do work in the sex and entertainment areas but so do girls. It is a lifestyle choice that is open to all and doesn’t carry the same stigma as it does in the West. The kathoeys that work in the go-go bars of Nana Plaza, Patpong and Soi Cowboy can be quite predatory and some men do feel quite threatened by them. But the girls who work there are just the same and again it’s not that they work here because they are ladyboys, they just happen to be ladyboys who choose to work there. Judging all kathoeys on the basis of a predatory go-go dancer is just as crazy as judging all Thai girls because you have had a run in with a Girl go-go dancer. Ironically in these bars it is illegal for girls to bare their breasts but not for kathoeys. They are still judged as men by the Thai government and as men they cannot be stopped from baring their breasts.
I visited the Simon Cabaret in Chiang Mai, my then girlfriend wanted to go. Thai girls love to watch ladyboys and consider them to be more beautiful than themselves, which is a strange concept when you are sitting with a truly beautiful Thai girl. Offer to take any girl on a date to watch ladyboys in a go-go bar and she will be happy. The kathoeys at Simon Cabaret are extremely beautiful though, two or three were so convincing it was almost impossible to believe. The mimed their way through the show and danced and generally enjoyed themselves. It was a good night out and all returned happy. For a few baht they were happy to have their photos taken with the audience after the show.
Whilst some kathoeys seem happy to live their lives as a man who merely dresses as a woman, some do go the extra mile to get the reality. Hormone treatments, breast implants, buttock implants, operations to remove veins from their hands, shaving of the adam’s apple, face lifts, botox injections and of course the full gender alignment surgery are all on the menu. Thailand and particularly Bangkok has the best breast implant specialists on the planet. I can never understand a woman in The States paying thousands of dollars for an average boob job, when they could fly here, holiday for three weeks and get the whole trip including the surgery, cheaper. The end results will be better in Thailand as well.
I have no idea what causes there to be so many in Thailand. It is a question for which nobody seems to have an answer. Maybe they are just more accepted so young boys have more choices in their pubescent years. Maybe there is something in the diet that causes female hormones to increase. But one thing I cannot explain is why a lot of them are so tall, there are not many tall men in Thailand, but there are plenty of very tall kathoeys. I suppose that as Thai people have a much more beautiful look about them, it is easy to make a convincing lady if that is your leaning. Maybe there are just as many in The West but they are forced by convention to hide away from the world.
Surely there is room for all in this day and age.