Words don’t come easy: กะเทย, Katoey, Ladyboy or Transsexual

Like everybody knows the Thai word for “Ladyboy” is “Katoey”. Actually, you cannot really transcribe this word into English as the word needs to be pronounced with a sound that is not known in the English language. In Thai you will write it กะเทย. Thats why you should actually pronounce it with a sharp “G” in front. Like Gatoey.

In Thailand there is one word – Katoey – for describing a huge variety of people. In western countries there are – necessary or not - many more different words to describe the different look, lifestyle and behaviour of transgender people: Somebody who is actually gay but shows feminine manners would be called a gay queen or so. In Thailand you would call him Katoey.Somebody who dresses like girl but also in some way a masculine living would be called a crossdresser in farang countries, but in Thailand that individual would be referred to as Katoey.
Somebody who sometimes wears women clothes for whatever reason is called a transvestite in the west – in Thailand: Katoey.
Somebody who really is a woman by heart and is living is called a transsexual in the western hemisphere. In Thailand she is called Katoey.So this shows that the word katoey has several meanings, so does the word ladyboy. But most often it ladyboy is used with transsexuals. But, I have always felt like the word ladyboy fits more on asian transsexuals. I am not Thai.
Thai people use ladyboy whenever I reveal that I am a women of “the second kind”.
However, you should take care when you use any word. Not everybody likes to be addressed that way.

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