Thailand is one of the Asian countries that are most accepting and welcoming of their trans community. Respect of the community is ingrained in the culture of the Thai capital.
The community was prominent in the 14th century. Throughout history, Thai monarchs were said to have had ladyboy partners. Bangkok is the world’s ladyboy capital and the pulsating heart of the community. Many Bangkok ladyboys live and work regular jobs.
Quite a few Thai celebrities are trans, and newspapers in the capital frequently publish photographs of local trans beauty contest winners. In the capital and elsewhere, there is an inspiring understanding of what it means to be trans. More specifically, there is an understanding of the misalignment between biological gender and gender identity, leading to what is known as gender dysphoria.
Terms and Concepts
Trans men are born female but identify as men. Ladyboys identify as women, although they have been assigned the male gender. The Thai word for trans is kathoey.
Some people in Bangkok are more visibly trans, others – less so. Some Thai ladyboys undergo hormone replacement therapy and surgery; others don’t.
Ladyboys who do not intend to undergo surgery describe themselves as non-op. Those who intend to are pre-op, and those who have undergone surgery are post-op. Gender reassignment surgeries are performed in the capital city every year. A lot of trans people from other countries visit the city for this very reason.
In Bangkok, there is a deep understanding of what it means to be trans. There are pro-trans events taking place in the city practically every week and a lot of theatrical performances at trans cabarets, where all the performers are ladyboys. These are artistic and skillful – and family-friendly, you’d be surprised to know.
Trans culture is prominent in local cinema, and local TV shows often have trans characters. Their portrayal is constantly becoming more and more realistic and deviating from stereotypes. For these and other reasons, Bangkok is the undisputed ladyboy capital of the world.