Category Archives: Thai Ladyboys

Ladyboys: The Secret World of Thailand’s Third Gender

Quite a while back Maverick House Publishers contacted us here at and asked whether we were interested in reviewing one of their books about ladyboys. Since that isn’t exactly Richard’s cup-of-tea, the task was with me. Just looking at the stats at thai-blogs the interest shown in this third gender is truly amazing. Three of the top-ten most viewed blogs here are about layboys with more than a hundred thousands individual hits between them, most of which have come via Google.

Ladyboys, The Secret World of Thailand’s Third Gender researched and written by Susan Aldous and Pornchai Sereemongkonpol features a collection of stories of ladyboys from all walks of life. That is comparison to another book review I done Male Bodies, Women’s Soles
which only consisted of interviews with an assortment of university students. Not much of a variety altogether, and so, in comparison, this book wins hands down. What I’ve done below is give yous a brief summary of three of the ladyboys stories, with links to three more.

Mali, Go-Go Dancer

In the introduction, Susan & Pornchai write “You have our admiration, and with hearts full of love, we wish you all the best”. The first story however, may confuse some readers as Mali turns out (in my opinion anyway) to be a deceiving con artist.

Meaning jasmine, Mali, now 30 was brought up in poverty-stricken Isarn working as a buffalo herder. Fatherless and with a mother hundreds of miles away, Mali was raised by aunts and grandparents. Mali sensed her third gender ways very young and while at school hung around with ladyboy buddies and made cheerleader outfits from hay. Mali goes on to have her first sexual experience at the age of 15 and shortly after decides to quit the farm and catch a bus heading for the big city of Bangkok.

Mali got her first job working in the kitchen of a pub in Thonburi which put on ladyboy shows. Impressed, Mali would often sneak out and get a glimpse of their beauty. Mali soon hit it off with a waiter Mee who becomes the first person to satisfy her needs. Needing a bit more cash, Mali gets introduced to a Silom gay go-go bar and starts work there as a dancer. “When I began to become more female and grow my hair long, Mee lacked anymore interest. The clients too became less and less interested in this female-like gay” even though she still had a muscular build and manly face.

Besides putting on make-up, Mali begins hormone therapy and starts ‘taking them like candy’. Her chest grows quick. And it is then that she starts work as a go-go dancer in Patpong. It is there where Mali begins to explain in great detail how she and her fellow ladyboys con customers (who believe she is a real woman) by using surgical tape to seal their manhood underneath and wearing tight-fitting bikini bottoms. The customers have no idea that the dancers are actually endowed. She goes on to say that her pubic hair is also shaved in such a way to deceive customers and clients even more (seen through her bikini bottoms). Then, if she gets ‘off’ and taken to a hotel by a client, she goes out of the way to deceive them even more. Mali goes into explicit content which I won’t repeat here.

Mali goes on to say that she would never have sexual reassignment treatment and says that those ‘real’ ladyboys don’t hang around the ones who still have their manhood. Finally, she admits that she isn’t interested in foreign men as boyfriends, she prefers Thai men as a relationship is more than just about the sex.

(And that’s a guy? Calypso Cabaret, Bangkok)

Mimi, Fashion Columnist

After Mali, Mimi was a breath of fresh air. Born a Thai-Chinese, Mimi found out she was a gonna-be ladyboy by the age of 12 when classmates around her gave her the title ‘katoey’. She relates that her parents didn’t give a darned and gave her their initial understanding, a rare thing in Chinese culture due to the amount of family face involved. They did of course think it was just a passing stage. Mimi explains that even though ladyboys aren’t allowed to wear blouse and skirt to school, they bend the rules by wearing girly stuff such as pink watches and sticking Hello Kitty stuff on their bags. This was all part of being in the Fairy Gang. Mimi says that due to the ladyboy gang, none of them were ever bullied at school; a thing that would probably never happen in the West.

When Mimi didn’t stop fooling around at playing ladyboy it was then that her parents began getting serious about her behaviour, possibly bringing shame to her clan. Nevertheless, Mimi did bring face to the family when she excelled at school and secured a place in the Faculty of Arts at one of the Kingdom’s top universities. Being in the arts department Mimi had a whole bunch of ladyboy and gay classmates.

Interesting bit about one of her ladyboy buddies Noon who came from a Muslim family. She had gone through full genital reassignment surgery but her father still didn’t have a clue. Getting the support from her mother though (who even paid for the operation!) she fooled her father into thinking his daughter was a hippy with long hair who preferred baggy shirts to tight spaghetti tops.

After graduation, Mimi gets a job as a translator at a woman’s mag and her working life begins there. She does however, explain that being a cross-dressing ladyboy the workplace is still full of prejudice against transgenders and they often find it hard getting employment. As for a relationship, Mimi says “Against all odds, I still hope to meet a man who shall overlook my birth gender and care more about mutual understanding. I want him to take me as an individual”. She also goes on about the different types of ladyboy such as gay king and gay queen etc… She is currently saving for full sexual reassignment surgery.

Pui, Caberet Girl

Straight away, Pui claims “I don’t think of myself as a katoey, or even gay. They are just words other people use to identify me” and how about this for stirring a bit of controversy “In my opinion, gay and katoey are the same in the sense they are both attracted to men. What differentiates us is how we dress and present ourselves in public, which to me is superficial and therefore of little importance. I find labeling ridiculous, but if I had to choose between gay and katoey, I would choose katoey”.
Even though, Pui would label herself a ladyboy she has done nothing to make her body more feminine, never taken any hormones and never undergone any surgery.

Pui’s story is one of huge success. Born into a poor Islamic family in the south of Thailand, she has never cross-dressed in her village due to social stigma. Arriving in Bangkok at the age of 21, Pui enrolled at Ramkhamhaeng open University and got a job as a female impersonator at a club on Silom Soi 4. At the time, it was The place for gays, fashion designers, models and well-known celebrities. Her club was also the first joint in Thailand to offer entertainment of ladyboys impersonating the likes of Diana Ross and Shirley Bassey. Pui was best known however, for her role as Tina Turner and went on to win as overall winner on a TV show.

On arriving home in the south, Pui was terrified at the thought of confronting her dad whom she believed would be mad at her making a fool of the family on national TV. He was in fact pretty chuffed and was more interested in knowing how much prize money she had won. And it was in the hundreds of thousands. This she used to set up her very own cabaret team, and became even more famous.
To cut a long story, Pui finally joins Calypso Cabaret (presently located at the Asia Hotel in Bangkok) and goes into fine details about just how difficult and rigid it is to become a ladyboy cabaret dancer in Thailand. Very interesting indeed. 20 years later at the age of 49, Pui is still working at Calypso and is considered Calypso’s biggest sister. Besides performing, Pui is also judge of the auditions and trains successful candidates and explains that it often takes a year of training before an impersonator can finally get on the stage. Altogether, a very nice story.

(Super-friendly Nicky: The world’s first ladyboy air-hostess)

Sarah, Entrepreneur

No need to write her story, as I already have for thai-blogs. In fact, yours in name here was the first person to write her story in the English language. It’s here″>
What a huge disappointment though, Sarah’s story she gives in the book varies so much to the original she claimed in Thai language (as in my blog) and constantly contradicts herself throughout and makes many mistakes with yearly events etc… I even contacted Pornchai the author about her story (I also asked him whether he had pinched the idea of interviewing her from my original blog!) and he too had noticed the inconsistency but felt overall, Sarah had given her all.

Nicky, Air-hostess (world’s very first and perhaps only one)

Off the subject of the book for a moment. With head held a little high I can proudly boast that I was the very first person to write-up Nicky’s story in the English language. And a great one it is; one that has gone international. Ranked as the 5th most read blog on the whole of thai-blogs here’s the very first story about her successful career move″>

After interviewing Nicky once for an article that I was gonna submit for the Daily Xpress free newspaper, I was horrified a couple of days later to find an entire two page article about her in the Bangkok Post. That is an example of how popular her story had got. Yes, I gave up on the idea of submitting her story

Nong Toom, Beautiful Boxer

Nicky may be well-known but in terms of fame she is way behind Nong Toom, such a famous former Thai boxer that she even had a movie made about her life. Her story has been told a hundred times before so I’m not gonna tell it all over again here! Just Google for ‘Nong Toom Beautiful Boxer’.

Overall, Pornchai’s and Susan’s book is very decent. The only real disappointments I found were some of the ladyboys who sold their body; a lot of self-centered sensationalism, portraying themselves as the victim while bragging about how much money they made, and they often claimed a darned lot – more than what I earn (you don’t find out though, what they blow all their money on). Bad things they had done to customers and clients were excused by bad experiences they had once went through. Just too much self-pity.

Being bored of lady-of-the-night stories, I took much more pleasure in reading about ladyboys of proper decent professions. Altogether though, a book well-worth buying. Finally, apologies to Maverick for the delay in reviewing the book. My excuse there was that I knew it was gonna be a huge write-up!

Lusty Ladyboy Monk Forced to Flee

(Below is a rough translation of a report in the Khao Sod newspaper on 8 Feb)

Former ladyboy monk (abbot) Je Dao of Sri Boon Reung temple in the northern province of Lamphun, has quickly and quietly disrobed.

In ladyboy circles, Je Dao had become well-known for changing into a skirt and bra and sneaking out at night to discotheques. On top of that debauchery, Je Dao was known to sleep around with commoner gays.

Je Dao had very recently come under the suspicions of locals who, alongside a female student, informed the cops of the truly immoral behaviour of a monk who takes medicine to grow breasts, goes out at night and enjoys having gay sex. Je Dao had found out that he was under investigation and so quickly disrobed and fled the temple on the morning of the 7th February.

According to some other locals though, Je Dao has their full support and they feel proud of their former breasted ladyboy monk who didn’t quite live up to the expectations of an orange robed-one. According to Je Dao (newly-named Titsaman) in a confidential interview said “I am going to go and work in America within a couple of months”. (as in ‘work’ Je Dao used the Thai words ‘hah kin’ which can also be translated as ‘work as a prostitute’).

Phra Kalaya the monk who conducted the ‘leaving the monkhood ceremony’ said that he it was only his duty. He promised he had no idea of any hidden agenda of Je Dao’s.

Deputy Head of the Lamphun Sangha said that this kind of matter did not shed good light on Lamphun’s temples. In fact, it is even worse than usual stories like this because Lamphun is located in the historically religious Lanna region.

He went on to say that if commoners knew of any other sin-loving monks like Je Dao to inform the local Sangha Committee immediately.

Thailand’s 1st ‘Real’ Ladyboy! (Part2)

(Transsexual ladyboy Mrs Jim Sara 54, with her legal husband Mr Nop 33)

After Jim Sara had been the first Thai to ever undergo a complete sex-change operation (London’s Kensington Hospital, 1976) she came back to Thailand to start her new life as a woman. Unfortunately though, the Thai law (as it still does today) disallows transsexuals to use the title ‘Nang Sao’ (Miss). Jim feeling really hurt inside, admits that even though she was fitted out in female sexual organs, she didn’t feel like an actual woman.

Fed-up with Thailand’s anti-transsexual diplomatic way of thinking, Jim packed her bags again and this time flew to Melbourne, Australia to start up a Thai restaurant – going into business with her Thai boyfriend of then. Jim stayed there for a total of 5 years, but after her and her boyfriend split up, the restaurant business went to tatters and she got on the airplane home. She next flew on to Switzerland – and as she has traveled to England before, she falsely used her sister’s passport.

Again, in the restaurant business, Jim decided that she really loved Switzerland and wanted to apply for permanent residency. Certainly not too easy though, especially when she was carrying fake identification. But anyway, Jim, through a friend of hers, met a Swiss guy who was willing to marry her if she paid him 500,000 baht. She did and the marriage was signed. Within just a few days though, she was dumbstruck to hear that the Swiss law on automatic residency for married aliens had changed – and her dream of residency wasn’t gonna happen that easy.

Jim waited years before she was applicable for permanent residency and when her time was ready, her ‘husband’ turned around and refused to sign any papers of guarantee unless she paid him a stack of money. Giving into his greed, she paid but once again he demanded more cash. This time she refused and he simply disappeared of the scene. Sadly, Jim never did get her permanent residency for Switzerland.

A couple more years went by and suddenly one day, her ‘husband’ came back and said “Unless you give me the sum of 600,000baht, I’m gonna tell the authorities that I was bluffed into marrying a ladyboy who deceived me with her sister’s passport”. Taking the threat seriously, Jim decided to the right thing and go back to Thailand.

Once safely back in her home country with plenty of savings in her bank account, Jim opened up Thailand’s very first ‘Gay and Transgender’ hotel in Pattaya. It was during her time there that she met her future husband Mr Nop – a successful businessman and former actor. But, with the 1997 Asian Financial Disaster, Jim’s hotel business collapsed and on top of that – lost 28 million baht in currency exchange.

With some money leftover though, Jim came back to Bangkok and opened a Gay Club in Saphan Kwai district. Jim and Nop’s love grew stronger and in 1998, they were the first ever transsexual-straight couple to get married in Thailand. The marriage ceremony, the first of its kind, was heavily publicized and the couple were a household name overnight. What made the story even more amazing, was that Jim’s husband was 21 years her junior! A ceremony it only was though and the couple, as is stated by the law, were unable to have the marriage officially documented.

When being asked what first made her fall in love with Nop, Jim said “He was like no other man I knew; he didn’t smoke, drink, gamble, play around or even go out at night. He was the politest and gentlest guy I had ever known”. So, how did Nop feel about getting publicly married to a transsexual ladyboy, 21 years older than himself? “I didn’t care, love is love and if two people love each other then why should you care about what other people think. Love is in the heart. Until this day, when I walk around in public with my wife, I don’t feel embarrassed – I feel very proud.”. Nop went on to mention that he had had the continued support of his family and friends.

That year, Jim sold off her gay club and moved to New Zealand with her new real husband to start a new life – this time traveling on her original ‘Mr’ passport. On being stopped at immigration, it was only after an interview with the officials on duty that Jim was allowed entry (Jim was later to be refused entry to China because of her male passport and female breasts).

Jim and Nop established a Thai-sweet business in New Zealand – the first of its kind and again Jim was making attractive earnings. In 1999, Jim began to apply for permanent residency. After two years, she got it. As is allowed by New Zealand law, her next step was to legally marry Nop. Jim had to undergo three medical examinations and take her case to three different courts. But somehow along the lines, the authorities manage to find out that she had once completely broken the law by illegally marrying in Switzerland. Back to square one for Jim and it took it her until 2006 before she was finally permitted to legally marry Nop – the first Thai transsexual-straight couple ever to be officially married.

Jim is currently back in Thailand, aiming to break back into show-business. I, on behalf of thai-blogs, wish Jim the very best of luck.

The first part of Jim’s story can be found at: Thailand’s 1st ‘Real’ Ladyboy! (Part One)

Story, courtesy of Khoosangkoosom magazine

Thailand’s 1st ‘Real’ Ladyboy! (Part1)

Former actress Jim Sara claims that she was not only Thailand’s very first transsexual to be officially recognized as ‘Miss’, but also the first to have full sex-operation surgery. For the first time in English, here is her story on how she became Thailand’s first ‘real’ ladyboy.

A native of Nakhorn Sawan province, Miss Jim first hit the limelight in her teens when she acted in a series of films – each one playing the part of an actual women. According to the film crew and fans, Jim was so cute in those days, that everyone mistook her for a Tom-boy! And even after she gave up performing for the cameras and took up the normal working life, people around her still believed she was just a girl disguised as a boy. Jim relates the story of the time she was employed at a fancy hotel. One day, on being approached by one the hotel bosses she was taken aside and informed that it was against staff policy to hire Tom-boys. She was instructed that from that day onwards, unless she went back to dressing as she should – as a proper female – she would be fired!

Fed-up with the miserly pay of hotel work, Jim changed direction and got herself a job as a well-paid tour guide. She admits that she had a great time with her new chosen career and managed to save plenty of cash. So much in fact, that she was able to establish her own bar – aimed at gays. Her bar was soon a hit with the local and expat ‘pink’ communities, especially when she thought the idea up of secretly showing gay sex movies. Not for long though, her bar was busted by the police; Jim was arrested, her bar shut down and she lost all her money.

Devastated at such bad luck, Jim packed her suitcase and headed for London at the advice of an English friend she had met while working as a guide. Wanting to travel as a ‘woman’, Jim decided to travel on her sister’s passport and left her ‘male’ one at home. Not long after, Jim secured herself work in a Thai restaurant and she was back to earning decent cash.

By chance, while flicking through a copy of a local newspaper, Jim came across an advertisement from a London hospital looking for sex-operation ‘case study’ applicants. It was 1976 and Jim was just 23 years old. Jim jumped at the opportunity of a free sex-operation as no such thing was available in Thailand in those days. Mind you, Jim wasn’t the only one to apply for such a great opportunity and on the day of application she was surprised to meet another 100 or so transsexual hopefuls. She was the only Thai and one of just three Asians.

Jim managed to pass the first stage of application and the amount of applicants was cut to 40. For the next couple of months, Jim had to attend a series of daily interviews and tests, most of them psychological and underwent hormone treatment– she was fortunate that her place of work wasn’t too far down the road. Finally, the doctors made their ‘case study’ list be known and when Jim heard her name being called out as one of the chosen 7, she broke down in tears. Later, on asking one of the doctors why she had been one of the lucky ones, she was informed that she was the most ‘lady-like’ of all the hopefuls, both mentally and physically. Jim’s operation was classified as ‘full-option’ and it was to take a total of 14 hours. In the meantime, Jim took 7 days leave from work and told no-one.

After the operation, Jim admits that she was in a lot of pain and it was a few days before the bandages came off and she could finally see her new self in the mirror. She was thrilled at what she had become – her dream had come true.

When Jim’s visa was coming to an end, she decided that she had had enough of London and headed back for home. With the sex-operation complete, Jim thought it best to disclose the details to her family for the very first time – at the airport where they were waiting. Only having known Jim as a cross-dresser before, they were absolutely shocked to see their brother walking through arrivals with a big pair of breasts. Jim’s father never did get over such a surprise and didn’t talk to her for years after.

The Second part of Jim’s story can be read at: Thailand’s 1st ‘Real’ Ladyboy! (Part Two)

Story courtesy of Khoosangkoosom magazine


Coming soon on The Confessions of a Thai Minor Wife. An exclusive interview with a mia noi.

World’s 1st Ladyboy Air-Hostess!


Miss Kiranant (Nicky) What a beauty!

“Sawatdee Ka, Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome aboard PB Air”

PB Air’s latest air-hostess, Miss Kiranant, has been amazing her passengers with the sweetest voice to hit the Thai clouds in years! As the male passengers look on with rolling eyeballs at such a beauty, none of them would ever believe that the stunning air-hostess, was in fact, born a man!

Miss Nicky can already roll off a whole stream of phone numbers from rich handsome Thai and foreign passengers who have been beckoning Miss Nicky out on a date.

Known as Kiranant (Nicky), just 24 years of age, she is the first ladyboy ever to serve as ‘Senior Cabin Crew’….in the world! For anyone who should dare call Nicky an ‘air-steward’, they have been promised a karate kick around the head!

Nicky explained her burdensome past “While I was studying at Rajabhat University, I was offered a job as a steward at Oriental Airlines, but I just wasn’t happy having to dress up as a man”. Anyway, Nicky followed her dreams of working in the airline business and stuck at the job until she finished her degree in Tourism.

Nicky went on to say “At Oriental Airlines, I wasn’t very satisfied with my male-orientated job, but I did feel proud of studying for a degree while being able to send money to my parents and give donations to the temple”

Nicky jokes about her experiences as a steward and how her colleagues and passengers would tease her with the likes of “Your face is so much more beautiful than handsome!” Even as a steward, Nicky claims she was propositioned constantly by male passengers who just…. adored her feminine face!

Wanting to be herself – Nicky, after 3 years of experience at Oriental Airlines, threw away her trousers and tie for a short sexy skirt and blouse and applied for a job at PB Air as an air-hostess. Unbelievably, the personnel bosses just fell in love with the graciousness of Nicky, and even though it was completely against company regulations, they offered her a 3 month probationary position. Throughout that period, she did such a splendid job that she was finally offered the permanent job of ‘World’s First Ladyboy Air-hostess’

Unfortunately for Nicky, she had this to say “There is a lot of prejudice in Thailand and especially in the workplace. A lot of people behind the scenes weren’t happy with the decision to hire a ladyboy and many of the other female applicants made a huge fuss to the management. Some of them even scolded me to my face!”

Miss Nicky, unhappy at being born a man had to prepare herself for a complete sex-change operation. “I was so happy at the thought, I just wanted to be myself. I even had the full works all done at the same time!”

Source: ‘Bangkok Today’

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