Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kathoeys of Thailand

This is a writeup about Katoeys of Thailand. Photographs were taken by Renu when we visited Thailand recently:

The concept of three sexes is ancient in Thailand. Creation tales tell of a man and woman who had three children: a male, a female and a third sex. This third sex is considered by many Thais to be the ladyboy (or katoey). The term katoey is a slang word for a man who chooses to live as a woman. This can mean anything from the guy who wears drag for fun once in a while, right through to transexuals who have had a complete sex change operation.

Outside Alcazar Cabaret

A katoey will often begin to take female hormones around puberty to inhibit masculine growth. Many will later have breast implants and some, but not all, will have full sex-reassignment surgery to complete their transformation. Estimates put the number of ladyboys in Thailand at close to 200 000 individuals. No one really seems to know why Thailand has so many ladyboys.

Alcazar Cabaret

Ladyboys are employed in many customer service positons, as they are usually very polite and extremely well groomed, not to mention extremely pretty. Kathoeys often work in pharmacies, behind shop counters, as receptionists and in restaurants. Several popular Thai models, singers and movie stars are kathoeys, and Thai newspapers often print photos of the winners of female and kathoey beauty contests side by side. The phenomenon is not restricted to urban areas; there are kathoeys in most villages, and kathoey beauty contests are commonly held as part of local fairs.

Ladyboys are well known for taking exceptionally good care of themselves.

Kathoeys are more visible and more accepted in Thai culture than transgender or transsexuals are in Western countries or even than in the Indian subcontinent. Buddhism teaches tolerance, and transvestites and transsexuals are more open about it in Thailand. Beneath the surface though there may be more prejudice than appears on the surface but laws were passed in 1997 to make everyone equal. This still doesn't prevent discrimination. Kathoey are portrayed in the media as figures of fun - while this may seem harmless, it means that they are not taken seriously. Kathoey are sometimes referred to as the third sex.

Many transgenders feel from an early age that they were born the wrong gender but usually do not undertake surgery until they are older. Some lady-boys can not afford to have the sex change operations required and continue with male physical attributes, but dress and portray themselves as women. Some kathoey have surgery in stages as they can afford it so they may have breast implants but still have male genitals.

After the show they invite you for a photograph- for a payment

Thailand's ladyboys are famous around the world. Transvestite caberets Alcazar and Tiffanys are huge in Thailand and are justifiably famous too. Staged in huge, modern theatres, they rival anything seen around the world for their style, costumes and fun.

With days collection

An unusual ladyboy stories is that of Muay Thai boxer Parinya Kiatbusaba, better known by her nickname of Nong Toom. He would enter the weigh-in wearing full make up, and sometimes a wig, and goad his opponents by blowing kisses and generally acting effeminately. One of the reasons he entered the sport was to pay for a sex change operation. In 1999, at the age of 19, he underwent sex-change surgery in Bangkok, and reappeared as a statuesque and pretty female. She was now forbidden to fight, and took up a career in entertainment. A film called Beautiful Boxer was made about her life.

A team of katoey volleyball players made headlines in Thailand with a meteoric rise to the national championships. Two films have been made about their exploits.

Well, pay and hug me for a photograph

1 comment:

ಅನಿಕೇತನ ಸುನಿಲ್ said...

please send ur mail id sir.your article is good.