Thailand: Ladyboys and toms

In Thailand there are a lot of ladyboys, or katoey, and toms, as in “tomboy.” Without official data, the only way I can describe this is to say that, at least in the big cities, it’s noticeably common; you see them everywhere, even portrayed in popular media. Ladyboys are more common than toms, who have appeared on the scene more recently.

Ladyboys are men who dress as women and toms are women who dress as men. To say either group identifies as “men” or “women” would oversimplify the issue. The polite term for katoey in Thai literally translates to “third gender.” Thai has no gendered pronouns, but when Thais refer to ladyboys and toms in English, they consistently used “her” and “him” respectively in such a natural way it seems to reflect the way they think of the people rather than an effort towards political correctness.

Maybe it’s because Thais do, to a large extent, consider ladyboys women and toms men, but neither men who date ladyboys nor women who date toms are considered “gay.” Anecdotally, it seems that ladyboys don’t date ladyboys and toms don’t date toms.

It is a troubled world for these people, at times, dark and abusive. In the search for life and love they look in every direction.

Pray for healing, transformation, restoration, spiritual breakthrough, workers among this community.

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