I had a lot of discussions about the difference between Thai Katoey and Western transgender people. At first I thought we were all the same as Victoria looks and behaves pretty much like the other Thai „girls of the second kind“. But after some time she told me about a lot of differences, that she heard of during her time in the West and we started to compare the situation with each other. Here is the result:
I think the most apparent is the nomenclature of us. The word Katoey has so many meanings and facets. We already wrote a post about that a long time ago. But being a Transsexual is just a very definite thing - a real girl born in a male body.
Then there is the issue of behavior.
Katoey in Thailand often behave pretty exaggerated effeminate and loud, at times obscene and colorful.
In Western civilizations this kind of behavior seems rather reserved to the transvestites and Drag Queens as the Transsexuals try to live their lives as girls and especially in rather intolerant societies like the US they live their lives even after their full transition in „deep stealth“ which means that they let nobody know, what they had been in an earlier life.
Then there is he fact about sexual preference.
A Thai Katoey identifies herself as Katoey because she has a crush on boys and being into girls is hardly prevalent in the Katoey community. As Victoria told me this is completely different in the West. A lot of transsexuals have had female partners before and even try to keep them during their transition. Even without having a wife or girlfriend many Transsexuals are into girls.
Then there is he age when people start their transition.
As being Katoey can be lived so open in Thai society most of the Katoey find out what they are at, an very early age. They just have to meet with their neighbor’s „daughter“, who might be a Ladyboy, to recognize that there are more than two genders and being Katoey might bet he answer to the girlish feelings inside ones heart.
In the West this is not the case. Of course most of the Transsexuals over there had the feeling that they were girls at heartat a young age, too, but most often due to the intolerance and ignorance of the societies that they live in and because of the fact, that there is nobody to take their hand and lead them to their new lives, they will only start their transition very late - mostly during their 30s, 40s or even 50s. This step then of course takes a lot of courage which I pay a lot of respect to. Of course there are also younger transsexuals in western countries but they are very rare and have a lot of difficulties too as being a transgender might be even harder as kids are a lot crueler than adults. Anyway, that is he group that Victoria counts herself to, as she had been a girl from early childhood on.
Then there is the thing about beauty. Most of the winners of Ladyboy beauty contests in Thailand are in their late teens and the older once in their late twenties hardly have a chance to win. This is also because the Thai society is much younger than those in western countries. So there are a lot more young people around than in the west which also coins the perspective on age and beauty.
In the West it is nearly the other way round. Many – even those transsexuals who start at a young age - need more time to develop their selves. So when they are young they might be cute, but real beauty unfolds only after a couple of years. The best example is the 2006 winner of Miss International Queen who was as far as I can remember a 36 year old Mexican transsexuals
But even if there might be some differences between us, we must not forget, that we have more in common than „normal“ people. Being Katoey or Transsexual easily builds bridges to other civilizations. Bridges that „normal“ people don’t have.