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I removed the following sentence:

Traditionally the term had a further meaning: It was also used to refer to female-to-male transgendered people.

I cannot find any confirmation of this in the available literature. I also find the claim hard to believe, as female-to-male is exceedingly rare in Thailand. I'll be happy to put the sentence back if I can find a source. AxelBoldt 19:49, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

for consideration[edit]

I have travelled in thailand and never heard the word kathoey describing an F to M person. However, I did meet a few F to Ms and 'butch' women, and would imagine they're more than 'exceedingly rare'. I was told the terms "Tom" and "Dee" were sometimes used similarly to the English-speaking world's "butch" and "femme".

Secondly, I have to question the author's implication that Kathoey are found in all manner of occupations. In fact, there are strict gender roles that limit what Kathoey can and can't do socially, as there are for men and women. I believe there are few Kathoey in the upper social strata, for example, and are much more commonly poor and lacking social status - despite being unlikely to be bashed or hated in the same way as transgendered people in the west might be.

I added the bit about the lower social status. AxelBoldt 19:02, 18 Mar 2005 (UTC)


Could someone add the proper pronunciation of "kathoey" to the article? Thanks, AxelBoldt 19:02, 18 Mar 2005 (UTC)

It's a tall order, I'm afraid. The final vowel doesn't exist in spoken English, and most westerners mispronounce it. TheMadBaron 09:23, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
Could you try to describe it somehow? AxelBoldt 17:35, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
I don't think that most westerners do mispronounce it- it's just that the English word is not pronounced the same as the Thai word from which it derives (nor is "Venice" pronounced "Venezia"). The English word is pronounced "ka-toy". The Thai word is (roughly) "ga- too-ay", but the pronunciation of That words doesn't really belong in the English wikipedia. Mark 21:24, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
I respectfully disagree. I think the correct pronunciation would be a useful addition if it could be precisely and concisely conveyed - but I don't think it can. Kathoey is not an English word (try looking it up in an English dictionary). The pronunciation "ka-toy" is simply a common mispronunciation of กะเทย, which does not sound like "ga- too-ay". The initial consonant ก is certainly closer to g than k, but "oo-ay" is one too many syllables to make the final vowel sound, and neither of them is the right vowel sound. Strange transliterations like "oey" arise as a way to consistently convey vowel sounds which simply can't be spelled in our alphabet. TheMadBaron 01:33, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
If kathoey were not an English word, we wouldn't have an article on it in the English wikipedia. If I say, "Yesterday I saw a kathoey", that is a perfectly good English sentence; I haven't started speaking Thai halfway through. Mark

I don't think it's that important to decide whether it's an English word or not; documenting how Thai and Westeners pronounce it will certainly be useful to our readers regardless. Could we express it in IPA? And/Or use a sound file? AxelBoldt 02:56, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

I could write how I and the people I mix with pronounce it, but I don't think it's widely enough used for us to find a citeable source for the pronunciation. And I'd be reluctant to include a Thai pronunciation without the English one; that would give the misleading impression that it should be pronounced that way in English. Mark
I'm afraid I would argue that it should be pronounced that way, Mark, except that it would be absurdly optimistic to expect this to actually happen.... even so, I shall continue to pronounce it that way, and I don't think my rendition of your sentence would be any less "English" than yours. I could argue, with conviction, that you did use a Thai word in your "English" sentence, and I'd probably enjoy the argument.... but I do see your point, and I agree with AxelBoldt that it's not terribly important to decide whether it's an English word or not (which is fortunate, because I don't think we'd ever reach an easy agreement).
It does trouble me a little that we've adopted a transliterated spelling (poorly transliterated, IMO) of the Thai for what we must now apparently claim as an "English" word in order to justify its inclusion in an English encyclopedia. The spelling varies wildly from one source to another, and, not being in any English dictionary that I know of, the choice is somewhat arbitrary. If it were to be considered an "English" word, and if we were to accentuate the mis "English" pronunciation, then there would be a good argument for moving the article to Katoy and making the plural katoys. Personally, I think there's a better argument for moving it to Ladyboy, and I'd have to support any move to do so. That said, I think "kathoey" is probably the most common spelling, annoyingly enough, and possibly even "correct" under the Thai royal guidelines regarding transliteration (about which I shall respectfully refrain from further comment), so I'll reluctantly concur that it's the "correct" spelling, insofar as there can be such a thing, and, since I do see it coming more into English usage, I'm content to leave it here.
(Sorry to harp on like this, but this is my idea of an interesting debate.)
I think we should include an attempt at the Thai and common mis "English" pronunciations in the article. (To avoid an edit war, I shall even refrain from insisting in the article text that the "English" pronunciation is just wrong. Even though it is.)
I think that expressing both in IPA is an excellent idea. I think the Thai pronunciation would be katʰɤːj - the English tend to come out with something more like kʰatʰɔɪ (though you hear all sorts of bizarre variations) - but I'm a novice with IPA.... I'd be interested to hear what someone who knows IPA well would make of that.
I also think the idea of using sound files is an excellent idea, and not too hard to accomplish. Whether we'd agree on the results of the "English" pronunciation is another matter, but there's probably only one way to find out.... if not, then we could always include multiple mispronunciations. :) TheMadBaron 19:29, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
As long as the Western pronunciation is verifiable, we can include it; we don't need a citable printed source. Verification in this case would simply involve mingling with the Bangkok expat community I suppose. AxelBoldt 17:31, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
We do need a citeable source for any information we include, whether online or on paper. A sound file of you, me or the Pope saying it would give no useful information to the reader, since our view of how to pronounce it is no more reliable than his. Mark
I disagree. You're quite fun to disagree with, Mark. Sorry about that.
I agree that the popes idea of how to pronounce it is eminently unreliable. I have no reason to suppose that AxelBoldt's is much better. Your idea, on the other hand, of what you call the English word, pronounced "ka-toy" is obviously more reliable than the popes, by virtue of your experience of living in Thailand.
No-one's going to credibly dispute the information we're proposing to provide if we phrase it right.
We upload two seperate sound files.
We upload a sound file of a Thai giving the Thai pronunciation. The pronunciation is verifiable. Just ask any Thai.
We upload a sound file of an expat giving a common pronunciation of the word - "ka-toy". There's no need even to say it's the "English" pronuniation, or even THE most common amongst expats, even though we know it is. It's verifiable as a common pronunciation. Just ask any expat in Thailand.
TheMadBaron 21:42, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
It's not verifiable as a common pronunciation unless you've done a survey to find out how many people use it. That would be original research and does not belong here. Mark1 00:16, 17 November 2005 (UTC)
We have to do a survey before we can claim to know how a word is pronounced, or knowing how the word is pronounced is original research? That sounds ridiculous. Says who?
Oh well, suit yourself. I guess we'll just upload the correct Thai pronunciation alone, and note that expats often pronounce it wrong differently. TheMadBaron 02:56, 17 November 2005 (UTC)


The article currently uses both "kathoeys" and "kathoey" for the plural form. As it's a thai word, there's a good argument for "kathoey" (after all, it's wrong to speak of "bahts"); on the other hand, it's an English encyclopedia, and I'm fairly sure that "kathoeys" is more commonly used among westerners. I'm not bothered which we choose, but can we at least arrive at a consensus and stick to it? TheMadBaron 09:31, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

I think plural "kathoey" is more appropriate unless "kathoeys" could be found in some English dictionary. So I'll go ahead and change it. AxelBoldt 17:35, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
In light of my above argument that "kathoey" is not an English word, I'm bound to agree with you. Cheers. TheMadBaron 01:36, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
If we're pretending it's considering it as an English word, perhaps we should include a note to the effect that pluralising with an 's' is common usage amongst expats? TheMadBaron 21:50, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
Sure, we can have a section about the word itself: its pronunciations, various spellings, grammar, etymology(?) etc. AxelBoldt 23:01, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

Body size[edit]

Consensus seems clear that text explaining how to distinguish Kathoey from cisgender women should not be included in this article. --Obi-Wan Kenobi (talk) 04:18, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

The following text

Kathoey can often be distinguished from non-transgendered women by their taller stature and their larger hands.

was removed [1] with the comment "Distinguishing kathoey from non-TG women sounds too much like advice for sex tourists." I have now restored the material. It's true that the information might also be interesting to sex tourists, but I don't see how that can serve as a reason to remove. In fact, I believe the statement is necessary to relativize the previous statement that their "figure is usually very feminine". AxelBoldt 22:19, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

I found it unnecessary to state how kathoey usually vary from non-transgender women. The statement that their figures are "usually very feminine" is adequate; it does not state that they are always feminine, just usually. This statement needs no further context, as it is accurate in and of itself.
What is the purpose of mentioning ways to distinguish kathoey women from other women? It sounds like ways of discriminating kathoey women from other women, and this is, in fact, a way of discriminating against kathoey women. Jiawen 07:46, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
The purpose of the statement, as of most statements in Wikipedia, is to give the reader a more accurate picture of reality. If you write "the figure is usually very feminine" without qualifying, then you create the impression that they usually look just like non-transgendered women, which is not true: everyone in Thailand can spot kathoey in an instant. It's true that the statement distinguishes between non-transgendered women and kathoey, but stating differences does not imply discrimination; otherwise our articles on "woman" and "kathoey" would have to be identical. AxelBoldt 17:16, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
"everyone in Thailand can spot kathoey in an instant." Not provable. Furthermore, "usually very feminine" does not mean "always indistinguishable from other women". It means that kathoey very often, but not always, exhibit characteristics highly associated with femininity. That implies that they sometimes exhibit characteristics that are not feminine. The inclusion of the word "usually" means they aren't 100% feminine. No further qualification is needed.
And again, I don't see how that information is relevant to an encyclopedia article. Wikipedia strives to be informative, yes; but it also strives for a neutral point of view. Stating differences does not always imply discrimination, it is true. But 95% of the times I've seen it, this specific kind of advice is used with prejudice. It might be appropriate for Wikitravel, but not for an NPOV encyclopedia. Giving advice on how to discriminate a kathoey woman from a non-kathoey woman is, simply put, offensive. Jiawen 08:47, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Oh, let's see, maybe someone wants to specifically flirt with female women (flirt-flirt - not shove a wad of bills down her panties and buy her, buy, you know, flirt non-commercially, human being to human being?) or specifically make a platonic transgendered acquaintance ("friend"), take a picture with or interview or survey etc. one or the other, etc. Or, hell, we might even embrace the unlikely fact that there ARE really women on the interwebz, and said women might want to avoid some social faux pas or potential source of embarrassment, like trying to borrow a tampon from a bloke in drag? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:16, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Implying that women must be cisgendered to "count" as real women is discriminatory as well. There is no reason to add tips on how to distinguish between kathoey and ciswomen, because distinguishing between them if you aren't looking for a particular kind of prostitute should be irrelevant. The comments on how to tell the difference are creepy and divisive and shouldn't be included. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:55, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


The line

There are also persistent reports of groups of kathoey working as pickpockets in tourist areas.

was removed with the comment

an exaggerated stereotype

First of all, the existence of persistent reports is a fact and not a stereotype, easily verifiable on the internet. Whether it is an exaggerated stereotype or not, I do not know; unless we have data we cannot make any claim there, but I guess we can mention that it might be an exaggerated stereotype. AxelBoldt 01:19, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

It is mentioned in 2005 Lonely Planet Thailand guidebook... so that is a reference. Lokiloki 07:12, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

The guidebook describes it as an exaggerated stereotype or as a fact? AxelBoldt 18:32, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Population size?[edit]

I'm sure no comprehensive survey has been done, but does anyone have an estimate of how many Kathoeys there are in Thailand? ntennis 06:22, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

59,500,000 or thereabouts. 00:11, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

According to HBO's documentary Middle Sexes, there are about 300,000 kathoeys in Thailand, or about 1% of the male population. Mvxzw (talk) 01:13, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

Second kind of woman[edit]

I suggest changing "sao (or phuying) praphet sorng ("a second kind of woman")" to sao (or phuying) praphet song ("woman of the second kind") for cultural reasons and reasons of accuracy of translation. Thai people place sao or phuying (meaning girl or woman) before song (meaning the number 2 in Thai). Thai people view these girls or women as girls or women first before making comment about their secondary nature. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

I agree that the "r" in sorng should be removed, as it only makes sense for non-rhotic varieties of English. The "r" was added by the TheMadBaron — if that editor doesn't object, I'll revert it to "song". As for the order of the words, I don't mind either way. Go ahead and change it if you like. (To me the difference is negligible; remember that languages do not all use word order in the same way). ntennis 06:08, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
I think that is making a distinction without a difference. Either translation is perfectly adequate in my opinion and I will edit accordingly. Mrrhum (talk) 23:27, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
Regarding terminology and translation: any translation offered by a WP editor could be original research. As an encyclopedia, where the technical literature already suggests an English term for the translation, it is to be preferred (even if your translation is "better"!) References such as Male Bodies, Women's Souls by Costa and Matzner mention kathoey and consider it an imprecise term, and impolite as well,[1] and the individuals themselves prefer sao braphet song (สาวประเภทสอง) and translate it as "second type of woman".[2]
I wouldn't propose changing the article title based on that--yet--as kathoey seems the more well-known, at least among those likely to have come across either of the two terms. But this should be monitored, as these terms may change in popularity or perceived "politeness" over time, much as both "queer" and "gay" did in the United States over the last five decades.
I've added references from Costa and Matzner here, which may be ported to the article, with the "quote" param changed as appropriate. Mathglot (talk) 20:25, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Main Picture[edit]

I think that the current main pic of the go-go dancer kathoeys is offensive and should be replaced bc it... A. depicts them as sexual objects B only presents them from the "Western sex-tourist" perspective

the main transgendered/transsexual pages certainly wouldnt let a demeaning pic like that stand, and I dont think this page should either. it seems pretty obvious to me that it should be replaced, maybe with a relevant picture of the famous muay thai boxing kathoey, seeing as she is the most famous representative of kathoeys. I dont know where to get a properly liscensed pic, otherwise I would just replace it myself. VanTucky 04:40, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

No users disagreed on the talk page, so I replaced it with Nong Tum. VanTucky 18:44, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

The Nong Tum picture is appreciated. Clearly the numerous less-privileged kathoey working in gogo bars that cater to Westerners are viewed by sex-tourists as sex objects (and possibly view themselves as such); documenting facts isn't offensive. I put the pic back, further down in the article. AxelBoldt 02:51, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Recent kathoey movie[edit]

Does anyone know the name of the Thai buddy cops (I think they were cops, I'm not sure) action movie/comedy that came out last summer where one the two leading characters was a kathoey? Maybe it should be included. I also am curious because I never got around to seeing it and would like to see if it's made it to the US... Calliopejen1 (talk) 08:41, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

Never mind, it's The Odd Couple (found it on Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender-related films of Thailand). Calliopejen1 (talk) 08:44, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

intro and ladyboy[edit]

I made a minor edit to the intro elevating the popularity of this effective translation by Thai's trying to communicate or render katoey in English or vice versa. It is a very popular English expression with bar girls and katoeys alike there and, as I believe, this English equivalent is quite popular throughout South East Asia now i.e. all those cultures there with a "third sex" tradition, or at least some tolerance I guess, including the Philippines. (talk) 10:03, 6 June 2008 (UTC)

Project banners[edit]

An anon added five or six project banners to this article the other day. I'm removing WPMED and Psychology because I saw no information in the article about medicine or psychology. If I missed something about psychology, please feel free to revert that. For WPMED, if you want to dispute the removal, then I suggest discussing it with me at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Medicine/Assessment.

I realize that most people don't know much about banners and assessment: they are used by the WP:1.0 team to find articles that need to be included. For this purpose, only one banner (from whichever project places the highest priority on improving the article) is necessary. Banner bloat -- adding every banner you can think of, just because it "kind of" relates to the topic -- just means unnecessary work for each project's assessment teams. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:45, 9 July 2008 (UTC) (who is not watching this article)

Really? I agree with removing banners if the article content doesn't seem to support them but limiting articles to one banner each? Seems like that's a policy unlikely to get much support. Is this being discussed or proposed somewhere? Banjeboi 17:12, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

removed ref improve template[edit]

Following the cleaning up of the references and adding of references I've removed the add ref template. Some more work though is probably in order.--Goldsztajn (talk) 14:02, 5 December 2009 (UTC) She has cock! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:49, 11 June 2010 (UTC)

What is the difference kathoey(ladyboy?Shemales?)[edit]

What is the difference kathoey(ladyboy?Shemales?) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:55, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

If they're pushing for legal recognition as a "third sex"....[edit]

...wouldn't it be in accordance with their own community's demands to use the pronoun "it"? On top of that, the ideologically-charged aggressive use of 'she' in the article, in addition to the use of 'he' for those who haven't taken any steps, is beyond confusing. (talk) 23:01, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

What about history?[edit]

There is no info in the article about how and when Kathoey appeared and become popular. There is some info about that in other languages which can be translated to english (Russian article for example) (talk) 05:06, 26 December 2014 (UTC)


Please keep this References section at the end

  1. ^ Costa, LeeRay M.; Matzner, Andrew J. (2009) [1st. pub. Haworth Press, Binghamton NY 2007]. "1". Male Bodies, Women's Souls: Personal Narratives of Thailand's Transgendered Youth. New York: Routledge. p. 1. doi:10.1300/5750_a. ISBN 978-0-7890-3114-3. Retrieved Feb 5, 2014. Sao braphet song are more commonly know in Thailand and the West by the terms " kathoey " and "lady boy". In this book we use the term sao braphet song because various Thai we spoke with felt that this term was more polite than kathoey. Since the term kathoey is ambiguous, i.e., it can have positive or negative connotations depending on the context and position of the speaker and can be interpreed as a salur, we decided to use the more netural sao braphet song. Moreover, this was the term preferred by many of the participants in our project. However, we do at times, also employ ther term transgender as in the title of this book. In doing so we use transgender in a broad sense to signify a range of nonnormative gender expressions, not as a direct translation of the Thai terms kathoey or sao braphet song. 
  2. ^ Costa, LeeRay M.; Matzner, Andrew J. (2009) [1st. pub. Haworth Press, Binghamton NY 2007]. "1". Male Bodies, Women's Souls: Personal Narratives of Thailand's Transgendered Youth. New York: Routledge. p. 1. doi:10.1300/5750_a. ISBN 978-0-7890-3114-3. Retrieved Feb 5, 2014. In this book we seek to illuminate the experiences of male university students living in northern Thailand who identify as sao braphet song, or "a second type of woman," through presentation and analysis of their personal narratives. All of these individuals were born with male bodies, yet they chooose to live and/or present themselves toothers as women to varying degrees. Some cross-dress, take female hormones, and live as women full-time. Others cross-dress only part of the time, or dress androgynously. Some present themselves as men yet claim to have the souls of women.