Words Words Words: What’s the correct term for “ladyboy”?

So, I’ve been getting conflicting information about this.

I’ve been told “ladyboy” is a little derisive and that I should refer to them as Third Gender or Transgender (even though I personally have my doubts about the appropriateness of using a Western category/idea of “trans” to describe ladyboys). I’ve also used the Thai word “kathoey”, but was recently told THAT was offensive/condescending and that “ladyboy” was a self-adopted term within the community. Transvestite and Transexual are often used in advertisements, but I’m betting that is for marketing to foreign farangs.

So, what’s the actual politically correct (do Thai even care about political correctness? Is this some Western fixation around words and naming/language?) way to describe the gender non-conforming people of Thailand? I need to ask around more.


About Vivienne Chen

Vivienne Chen is a freelance journalist, blogger, fiction/poetry writer, English and Gender studies major at Princeton University, and activist for sexual freedom and LGBT equality. She is also a member of the University Press Club, and blogs at UniversityPressClub.com.

Posted on June 14, 2012, in Info. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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