How to Spot a Ladyboy or Katoey in Thailand


Although many people think Thailand is a conservative culture, in some respects it is, but in many it is not. With the Thais acceptance of ladyboys as important in their culture, it shows quite plainly how open-minded Thais can actually be. That’s why ladyboys openly work in Thai businesses, sell make-up at department store make-up counters, appear on numerous Thai TV shows and even show up in Thai schools as 14-year-old male students who already dress as women.

If you’ve ever been to Thailand, you will undoubtedly have seen some of the country’s many ladyboys. Or you may have not. The joke among Thais is many ladyboys are as beautiful as Thai women, if not more so. Known in Thai as ‘katoey’, the next time you are in the country, how do you actually spot a Thai ladybody? What should you be looking for?

Ladyboys are Tall -Thai women are usually small. The average height for a Thai woman is around 5ft 3in, so when you suddenly see a beautiful 5ft 9in girl coming towards you in a short skirt and high heels, nine times out of ten, she’s a ladyboy.

More Female Than Females – Many ladyboys go a little overboard with their femininity. They’re flamboyantly ‘female’. They load themselves up with supremely coiffed hair, lots of make-up, high-heeled shoes and extremely feminine clothing.

Normally, if you see a Thai woman so incredibly feminine she makes Marilyn Monroe look like a guy – she’s a guy.

Flamboyant Gestures – With ladyboys, there’s almost always a lot of shrill voices, lots of waving of arms and hands, batting of eyes and stroking of hair. Thai girls are actually quite demure. Ladyboys are not.

Adam’s Apple – Although many Thai men don’t have a prominent Adam’s apple, some do. If you see a lovely girl with a protruding Adam’s apple. Yep. She’s a ladyboy.

Wide Shoulders – While Thai women tend to be skinny all over, with narrow shoulders and narrow hips, ladyboys have wider shoulders and even narrower hips. Shaped more like a V – they’re boys.

Larger Feet – Thai women on average have extremely small feet. If the girl sitting across from you has shoes that would fit you, she’s a ladyboy.

Larger Hands – I’ve never met a Thai woman with large hands. I’ve met many ladyboys with large hands. That’s all you need to know.

Of course, all these characteristics are nothing more than a guide, and are not in any way meant to put down Thai ladyboys who, in most cases, are extremely lovely people.

I know a couple of ladyboys who are 5ft 5in tall, have the body shape of a girl, speak softly and quietly and dress quite conservatively. Following these characteristics as a guide, you would never guess they were ladyboys. The first time I met them, I didn’t either.

The majority of ladyboys however will fit in to the above characteristics, just don’t expect every one to. After all, Thai ladyboys are people with individual characteristics and style. Just like you and me.

And, of course, there is Thailand’s most famous ladyboy – Bell Nuntita – unknown until a few months ago, when she became a world-wide hit on Thailand’s Got Talent. The video of her performance is amazing.