what is a ladyboy

What Is a Ladyboy in Thailand? (And How to Tell if They Are)

What is a ladyboy? Well, spotting a ladyboy in Thailand can be tricky. The beauty of some ladyboys rivals those of Miss Universe, so it’s common for you to mistake one for an actual lady. Whether you want to date a ladyboy or not, it is a great idea to have eyes that can distinguish them from women.

Generally, ladyboys have characteristic physical qualities of men. You can spot them by listening to their voice, looking at their Adam’s apple, and noticing the size of their joints and limbs. Asking another ladyboy is also a wise option. But leave asking the person herself as your last resort.

Once you know the gender orientation of the person, it’s up to you what you want to do next. If you’re interested in dating a ladyboy, you can do that. But there are particulars that you might want to know first. Read on to explore the depth of meeting ladyboys in Thailand.

What exactly is a kathoey?

If you have visited Thailand, you must have heard of “Kathoey” at least once. The term is widely used in LGBTQ discourses. And you should get familiar with this particular word before diving further into Thai LGBTQ society.

“กะเทย” or “kathoey” is a Thai word commonly used to describe a male-born person who behaves in the manners of a woman, disregarding whether they went through gender-affirming surgery or not. They usually have a sexual interest in men, gay men, and other LGBTQs.

The word “kathoey” originally had a negative connotation. In the early days of the ladyboys wave, the term was usually used as an insult. It expressed a similar discriminating attitude to the word “negro” to black people in 1600-1800.

However, the term “kathoey” has somewhat evolved into a parody of itself. Many Thai LGBTQ influencers have comically repeated this term so many times that the negativity gradually subsided. Of course, this is unintentional. But the result helps Thai people embrace kathoeys more easily.

Nevertheless, many kathoeys still don’t like to be called “kathoey.” So, for a foreigner, you can use the word “ladyboys” just to be on the safe side.

Note that, in Thailand, Kathoey and Gay men are not exactly the same. While they both have interests in men, kathoey’s behaviors are feminine, while Gay men are still masculine.

Most kathoeys realize their gender orientation from a young age. Some have started feminine behavior since the early days of elementary school. However, this realization doesn’t come from societal pressure or any kind of illness. It is just their nature.

How to tell a ladyboy in Thailand

Thai ladyboys’ gorgeousness can rival those of female supermodels. Telling them apart from straight women can get complicated. And, of course, you don’t want to find out the fact afterward.

So, here are 5 tricks to recognize a ladyboy and distinguish her from a straight woman.

1. Listen to her voice

If there is one thing you cannot hide by any means, it’s voice. All ladyboys acknowledge this fact and try to imitate women’s voices the best they can. Nevertheless, you can still notice the difference.

Generally, men’s voices have a lower pitch and a heavier bass than women’s. It is almost impossible to hide this characteristic tone without a voice changer. 

However, some ladyboys excel at altering their voices. They can squeeze their vocal cord and articulate women-like sounds naturally. Not to mention the magic of voice-feminization surgery. This medical procedure can magically transform one’s voice, making it harder to tell one’s sex. 

Want to know how magical it is? Listen to the following example from Yanhee hospital.


2. Look at her adam’s apple

Most ladyboys understand that they can’t hide their voice. That’s why if they choose to hide their gender orientation, they might avoid speaking to you completely.

However, you can still look at another obvious tell of all males: Adam’s apple.

Just look at their neck (but please don’t stare) and see if there’s a protruding bone that moves when they swallow or not. Most of the time, you can see this body part effortlessly.

Of course, it becomes tricky when you consider the existence of cosmetic surgery. There’s a way for a ladyboy to “erase” their Adam’s Apple. It’s called Tracheal shave. And to unsuspecting eyes, it looks just like those of women.

3. Noticing her stature, bones, and limbs size

This is probably the least surefire way, but it’s still worth mentioning. You can distinguish ladyboys from women by looking at their overall size.

Due to natural physiques, men usually have larger skeletons than women. This means you can look at many points in a person’s body to get a glimpse of their actual sex. For example, statures like height and width, joint size like wrists and shoulders, and limb sizes like hands and legs.

Remember that some ladyboys were born small, and some even had cosmetic surgery to change their physiques. As a result, this trick might give false feedback. So, you should notice other points together with this one as well.

4. Ask a ladyboy friend

Now. This might sound like cheating, but it’s better than wild guessing.

There’s a saying in Thai that goes “ผีเห็นผี” (Pee Hen Pee), and it translates to “ghosts see ghosts.” It means that those of similar personalities see through each other. And by that logic, a ladyboy should be able to read another ladyboy like a book.

Of course, this trick doesn’t work 100%. Some ladyboys go further and beyond, deceiving even the eyes of their friends. However, such a case is quite rare. You can still trust your ladyboy friends.

So next time you go out to a bar in Thailand, bring ladyboy friends with you. You might need their extra help.

5. Ask the person herself

When all has failed, and you feel desperate, you have to throw the towels and step up to ask the person herself. But please keep this as a last resort.

Most ladyboys are okay with you asking, “excuse me, but are you a lady or a ladyboy.” At first, they might laugh at you. They might mess around with you a bit, but mostly, they will tell you straight in the end.

Some of them might even enjoy the fact that you ask. It means their beauty is enough to confuse you. They take that as flattery.

But remember that some people don’t like to be asked this way. And if the person you ask turns out to be a straight woman, you might have to face the consequences. Verbal abuse is quite common. Water to the face is a little extreme but also exists. So, brace yourself.

How to start dating ladyboys in Thailand

As of 2019, there were around 3.6 million LGBTQ in Thailand (roughly 5% of the population). And many among this number were kathoey. But despite such a massive number, Thailand’s acceptance of LGBTQ is only at a cultural level. People of the same sex still cannot legally marry like other men and women.

Even so, you can still date ladyboys in Thailand. And if you want to go down that route, there are easier ways to get close to them.

1. Understand that you are dating a normal person

This fact might be obvious, but some people tend to forget it. “Dating a ladyboy is no different than dating anyone else.” The core of the relationship still relies on love.

You must love them for who they are and don’t expect them to be something else.

Whether a man, woman, or LGBTQ, you can date a ladyboy. But don’t forget that they are people just like you. They have their own likes and dislikes. If you are not their type, then that’s it.

Don’t try to date a ladyboy if all you have in mind is to “try weird stuff.” That won’t help anyone in the long run. Of course, if you have a mutual agreement with her, that’s another story. But if you really want your relationship to grow, love and understanding are vital.

2. Use dating apps

Nowadays, the fastest way to reach new people with a romantic interest in mind is via dating apps.

Some big names like Tinder, Coffee Meets Bagels, and Bristlr can get you quite far in Thailand. However, some dating apps are designed to help date LGBTQs and ladyboys.

Blued: Originally a men-men dating app in China. This application comes with a detailed filter, allowing you to seek out and connect with any ladyboys of your taste in minutes.

Jack’d: Despite having fewer features and functions, this application manages to gain popularity among Thai LGBTQ men. You can squeeze yourself into the community easier with Jack’d.

Azar: A worldwide hit dating app. The most striking feature of Azar is the ability to make a video call on top of an automatic translation chat. You can break the language barrier and connect with your sweetheart ladyboy effortlessly. (Source)

3. Go to party venues

Even though thousands of ladyboys are living in your Thai neighborhood, none of them are going to come knocking at your door. You need to go out and meet them. Where should you go? A party venue, of course.

These party venues could be a bar, a pub, a club, or a public event. And you can find tons of those in Thailand, especially in Bangkok and other major cities.

Regardless of gender, everyone loves parties. And at every party, you are bound to see groups of ladyboys. Then, you can make a decision whether to make a move or just to have fun with friends.

Want to learn more about dating in Thailand? Check out our articles on: “Dating Thai Men: 5 Characteristics You’ll Fall in Love With” and “How to Date a Thai Girlfriend for 7 Days

Best places to meet ladyboys in Bangkok

As mentioned, there are so many ladyboys in Thailand that you can’t miss them. However, if you want a location to specifically meet them (in Bangkok), you should try these places out.

1. DJ Station

This place is arguably the most famous gay bar in Thailand (as of 2022). It is located at Silom Soi 2 and opens every day from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.

You can let loose on the dance floor for hours and enjoy a lip-singing show every night. If ladyboys and fun are what you seek, you cannot skip DJ Station.

2. The Stranger Bar

Are you looking for a fancy ladyboys show? Then, The Stranger Bar is the place for you. This is another place that is located at Silom Soi 4. You can walk in from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

The biggest highlight of this bar is the gorgeous Drag Show that occurs every night at 10.30 p.m. The quality of the show is guaranteed. Why? Because the place owner is the winner of Drag Race Thailand Season 2, M Stranger Fox herself. (Source)

3. Bangkok’s Red Light Districts

If you only want to sip cool drinks and fool around with ladyboys, there are lots of bars in Bangkok you can go to. Many of these bars are located in and around Nana Plaza or Soi Cowboy. For example, Obsession, Cockatoo, and more.

Each bar has its vibes and services, so choose the one that resonates the most. And don’t forget to check their opening time. While many open in the early evening, quite a few open late at night.

The core of meeting a Thai ladyboy

Regardless of what your intention is when interacting with Thai ladyboys, treat them how you do to ladies. No matter how you look at it, they are people just like you.

Treating them like other ladies is especially crucial when you know their sexual orientation. Discrimination never ends well for anyone.

And if you want to push your relationship with a ladyboy to the next step, let your heart guide you. Don’t allow traditions or others’ opinions to stop you. After all, love is one of the most beautiful things in the world.

Like always, if you want to discover more about Thailand, stay guided with ThaiGuider. You might learn something you never knew about this unique country.


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