Thailand’s third gender, for decades they have been making headlines in domestic and international media outlets, many flock to Thailand just to catch a glimpse of these interesting and diverse individuals. Well known throughout the globe as ladyboys, there are varying degrees of ladyboys, some with just some makeup, some with full on sex change operations, we’re after one question; What makes their acceptance so prevalent throughout the kingdom and not in other developed nations?
Long since has Thailand been synonymous with the word ‘freedom’, a place where you can do anything, dress how you like, be as you like, do as you like, now come to think of it this is not entirely true but on the surface the freedom in the air rings through loud and clear. This is what many of us assume is the reasoning why ladyboys in Thailand are so prevalenteverywhere. Is there more Transexual people in Thailand than in other countries? One might ponder as Ladyboys seem to be everywhere Back in America cross-dressing or transsexual people are rarely seen, but does this mean there are more here than elsewhere? Is it simple that the general environment in Thailand is so much more welcoming towards the third gender as opposed to the more uptight environment such as America, Europe and Russia? Well there lies the answer.
Thailand is a place of freedom, and yes the general environment is more open to the third gender but this is not the only reason that you will certainly see a ladyboy on the street, in a bar or maybe your hotel during just a short week trip to Thailand. Thailand opened its doors to foreign tourism in the 1960’s before this point ladyboys were a very unique part of society. Without the tourist desire for this new type of people to emerge they had little place in a society where at the time was heavily an agrarian one. With the influx of the foreign minds arriving to Thailand, a land shrouded in mystique they craved a strong appetite for more and more exotic. This new group of visitors in Thailand made it possible for the Thai individuals with ladyboy tendencies to feel comfortable and find themselves a place in this new and evolving Thai society. As more and more individuals began to come out of the closet, dress and act as they wished, they gave more confidence to others wishing to do the same. This domino effect lasted for decades, now these unique and interesting individuals are well-known throughout the globe for the great acts they will go to in order to change themselves into a beautiful woman.
Sometimes you will be talking with an individual at a bar, restaurant or hotel and not even realize that the individual is actually (or at least was at one point) a man. These individuals go to such amazing lengths to change their appearance and alter who they are. The easier and more simple versions of change involve the application of makeup, the next step will often lead to a dress of women’s clothes, the next step will be shaving legs and arms, taking estrogen hormones and finally full on sex changes which are performed in a number of locations throughout Thailand. As the demand increases for these dangerous and irreversible surgeries so does the price, currently a full sex change (only down south speaking) will cost you around 300,000THB.Then, in addition to the actual surgery one must endure the days and weeks of pain and adjustment to their new bodies, earning their regard in many peoples opinion as a massive sacrifice; this is another testament to the level some will go in order to get the body they desire.
What drives these alluring individuals to go to such great extent to change who they are? Lucky for us we had the great chance to interview one of the leading members Khun Monkey and Khun Beau of the Blue Dragon Cabaret show located on the 3rd floor of Centerpoint in Ao Nang about this question. “The overwhelming open-mindedness of Thai people is one of the main reasons for ladyboys being so prolific throughout the Kingdom” tells the paid of Cabaret show workers. “That being said the main source of work and income for us is at the cabaret show in Ao Nang, visitors are almost exclusively foreign customers”, the pair continues. “For most of us we are not rich, we do not come from wealthy families, we must work for our money, we need a way to support ourselves and often in hotels, cabaret shows, bars and restaurants the main customers are foreigners, therefore without them we would have a more difficult time finding work and surviving in the lifestyle we do.” It shines new light on the subject of transgender and cross-dressing among cultures, for a country that has traditionally held the topic of sex as a taboo subject. It is the foreigner tourists coming to Thailand that has created a niche pocket for these individuals to feel free to express themselves in an alternative way.
Ladyboys not only go to great lengths to appear different, they watch women in real life and in movies to learn their mannerisms and habits, they apply makeup and will generally go through a massive transformation on a daily basis. If one works for a few year on these skills they can and will begin to take on these mannerisms, speech habits and other womanly habits as they will become second nature and you will see less and less of the original man or boy.
Quite often the transformation will begin at a very young age, often individuals will begin to play with and try on girls clothes, then they will hang around girls at school finding they prefer the company of girls to guys. Sometimes they will even begin taking female hormone pills around the age of 9 or 10. These hormones will promote the growth of breasts and a lightening of the vocal chords while reducing facial and bodily hair growth.
Nowadays ladyboys can feel free in Thailand as they have been generally accepted as another gender in the country. They have rights to the same working conditions and rights in the workplace as women or men. Although you might find it strange to see a cross-dressing individual checking you into your hotel room but in Thailand this is normal so please don’t show and embarrassment or strange behavior when talking with or dealing with ladyboys.
You might be interested in these alluring and interesting individuals, so why not go and see them in person in their most over the top stunning costumes? There is no better place to experience these wonderful and talented individuals than the cabaret show in Ao Nang. The Blue Dragon Cabaret Show in Ao Nang shows them in the correct spotlight. You can witness a huge variety of women from all over the country act a number of scenes in an ornate variety of clothes and costumes. While being dazzled by their perfect makeup, hair and various other accessories that truly make their appearance one to behold.
The Blue Dragon Cabaret Show in Ao Nang is located on the third floor of the Ao Nang Centerpoint. You can get in touch with the manager to book your tickets by calling: 099-561-5684, tickets are only 500THB and shows last about an hour. One thing to note is that you can get great refreshments to sip on while enjoying this glamorous show such as Thai Singhaor Chang (if you are feeling a little daring).