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Thailand ladyboys... how can you spot them?
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Also known as a katoey, the Thai ‘ladyboy’ is a fascinating and sometimes glitzy addition to the eccentricities of Thailand.
Here’s how to tell the difference between a lady and a ladyboy.

Ladyboys or katoey are transgender or transsexual persons who may or may not have undergone male-to-female gender reassignment surgery. With their popular cabaret shows, ladyboys have become an iconic subculture of Thai society, and many are often so gorgeous that it can be difficult for the undiscerning traveller to tell the difference between women and them!

Fair enough, some do give themselves away quickly with mannish behaviour and garish makeup. But there are times when the lusciously curled hair, killer red stilettos, figure-hugging dress, sweet perfume, and amazing poise simply ooze feminine charm, making you wonder if your eyes are playing tricks on you.

 

Well, not to worry! It’s Fiona to the rescue – here’s a tongue-in-cheek guide to telling when that Thai beauty standing in front of you is in fact a ladyboy, lest you let slip, “Damn, girl!” and end up with an unwanted surprise:

 
  
   

1. BIOLOGY 101

Since ladyboys were born men, the usual male biological clues are the first tell-tale signs:

Bigfoot – “Oh my, that curvaceous minx sauntering towards me has awfully large feet for her build…” If you are thinking this, you might be right that something is slightly off. Before you exit the scene, observe for large mannish hands as well – they are also quite impossible to hide.

Standing Tall – You don’t need to keep your eyes peeled to notice this one; height is one easy indication you can spot from afar. Thai girls are pretty petite with an average height of 160cm, whereas ladyboys often stand above 170cm.

Strong Jawline – Men tend to have a more angular bone structure in their faces, which means that the flirtatious diva’s chiselled jawline should make you think twice, no matter how shimmery and sexy her dress is!

Broad & Sturdy – The typical male physique has wide shoulders but narrow hips, whereas women usually have a more hourglass shape, with narrow shoulders but wide hips. But body shape by itself does not necessarily mean that she used to be a he! Look out for other signs before you reject the poor lass.

Adam’s Apple – The classic Adam’s apple bulge is the most definite sign. A word of caution, though: not having one does not always point to not having the Y chromosome. There actually is an affordable procedure called the tracheal shave to reduce the size of the Adam’s apple!

Ah, Speak to Me – Even getting a tracheal shave done will not alter the voice, so it will always have an inherent gruffness. Ladyboys tend to speak softly and in a higher pitch to mask a mannish voice, but will still not sound totally natural most of the time. Pay special attention to their flamboyant laughs which can give away their deep voices!

 2. BIRDS OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER

These feather boa enthusiasts love to stick together in groups with fellow ladyboys as they value solidarity. It becomes all the more likely that the stunning girl you have your eye on is a ladyboy, if you manage to spot obvious ladyboys within her group of friends.

3. MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL…

Who’s the fairest of them all?

Ladyboys are pretty vain and groom themselves a lot (even more than the typical girl), which may explain why so many of them look so beautiful. They obsessively inspect themselves in the mirror ever so often, re-applying makeup and making sure that their hair is impeccable – to them, not looking their best will be totally absurd!

4. IMPOSSIBLE BEAUTY

Moreover, ladyboys go to a lot of trouble to keep up the feminine disguise. Many take hormone medication or get extensive surgery done so that they can attain model-like features and a voluptuous figure. So if that babe in the bar looks impossibly good or just too attractive, tread carefully – it might not just be your beer goggles at work after all!

 
  

5. WORK IT, BABY!

Ladyboys thrive on attention, so they love to attract more of it through their walk or, should I say, sashay. The way most of them walk would be convincingly ladylike if not for the generous dose of coyness coupled with the ample amount of side-to-side hip action bordering on overkill. They like to flirtatiously strut as if on a fashion runway, a far cry from the usual demure gait of many Thai girls.

Note: With all that said, take the above with a pinch of salt. Always remember that ladyboys are people too, and are often sweet individuals to boot! Never forget that they deserve to be treated with respect and decency as well. 

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