The Ultimate Newbie Guide to Thailand

Spotting Ladyboys or Katoeys

How to tell if she is a ladyboy


A Ladyboy or Katoey is a Transgender or a Transsexual and is often prevalent in tourist P4P communities. Most tourists aim to avoid them, some are downright terrified and some purposely seek them, but let’s all agree that many of them are quite beautiful, if not visually visually irresistible.

This section will help put you more at ease (or if you are looking for a ladyboy help you in your hunt). Before getting started and knowing that there are polarized opinions as to how to address the gender/identity of ladyboys in this section ladyboys will be addressed as she/her/ladyboy, and for clarification purposes also as ladyboy/male vs. girl/female.

There are countless indicators that one can use to help determine if it is a girl or a ladyboy. Some are better than other, but none are 100%. Well a chromosome test is 100% and examining the crotch area of a pre-op is too, but hopefully a conclusion can be made before that stage. The longer you spend in LOS the more trained your eye will become, but even seasoned travelers and residents have been fooled (many may not admit it), but certainly many newbies have been “fooled”.

So how can you tell is if she is a male or a female? Below is a list of clues that may answer the question for you.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The more you drink the less successful you will be putting your skills to use; or even remembering what you have read in this section.

Hints related to the anatomy
(top to bottom)

In males the hairline is often higher than in females and usually has receded corners above the temples that can give it an “M” shape.

Males tend to have a horizontal ridge of bone running across the forehead just above eyebrow level called the brow ridge or “brow bossing” while female foreheads tend to be smoother, flatter and have less bossing, or bossing that project just below eyebrow level.

eye_brows_male_female.gif (181884 bytes)Eye Brows
Females tend to have higher eyebrows than males

The distance between the opening of the mouth and the base of the nose tends to be longer in males than in females and when a female mouth is open and relaxed the upper incisors are often exposed by a few millimeters

With female hormones a male’s voice will gain a much higher pitch, but generally not become quite like a female. Speech training can improve the voice, but listen carefully and you likely will hear the difference. Sometimes when a ladyboy who does manage to get the vocal pitch right it is at the sacrifice of being unnaturally loud.

Males’ jaws tend to be wider and taller than female jaws and often have a sharp corner at the back.

Males tend to have more prominent and a more square chin where female chins tend to be more rounded

Adam’s apple
Some will focus on the Adam’s apple. Most males tend to have a more prominent one than females, but a smaller one is more common in females than most realize.
While the presence of a visible Adam’s apple is a good indicator, the lack of one does not indicate anything especially since a simple surgical procedure can shave it down to near invisible.

Males have wider shoulders (more square) than females (more drooping)

For good reasons ladyboys don’t go to the gym to add muscle tone, but naturally males usually feature more muscles than females.

Many girls have obviously undergone breast augmentation, but many ladyboys really take the cake in this respect. Basically looks like two half cantaloupes. Also, it is very rare for a Thai girl to ever be in public without wearing a bra; so no bra means be very mindful.

The ratio between forearm and bicep may be one of the best indicators if done correctly. With the arm BENT 90º compare the INSIDE length of each. In females the ratio is close to 50:50 and in males the ratio can be 60:40 with the bicep being shorter.

Watch her stretch her arm all the way out (fully extended). A male’s elbow will be “inline” with the bicep and the forearm while the female elbow will be slightly recessed. In other words a male can extend the arm to max 180º while a female can extend it past that point.

Hand size is a fair help to determine a persons sex.

In Thailand many girls are taught at early age to be able to bend their fingers far backwards (part of traditional Thai dancing). This is hard to change after puberty.

Female generally have proportionally wider hips

Obviously non post-op ladyboys have a penis and a pair of testicles. Rarely will you be able to spot that while they are dressed, however, if you are in a bar with a ladyboy she may take it upon herself to grab your crotch to hopefully turn you on. At this point the door is open for you to do the same.

Thai females often have larger feet relative to body height relative to Caucasian females; however, the shoe size is still a good indicator.

Other Hints and suggestions

Overly feminine
A ladyboy typically has to put on an act to come across as a female and this generally manifest itself in them appearing more feminine than most females. This includes catwalk style walking and raised hands that are continuously moving and twisting. Another sign is that many ladyboys constantly are preening themselves.

Most ladyboys are delightful people to be around, but it is not atypical for some to be quite aggressive, this is particularly true for freelancers

A typical Thai girl is 5’5” or shorter (few are taller, yes) but a 6 foot tall female looking person is most likely a ladyboy

Take note of their friends; often ladyboys hang out with ladyboys

Others in Bar
There are many bars that employ just one ladyboy, but often more and on occasions only ladyboys. If you see one ladyboy in a bar it may be time to raise the alert level a nudge.

Reverse Indicators
There are a number of feature that ladyboys do not have:
Stretch marks, sagging boobs, menstruation, floppy bellies, etc.
Some can be faked though like “only anal sex” because of period.

ID Card
By now almost all Thai ID cards are in English and Thai language, so if you ask for the ID (for the purpose of age of cause) and see Mr. So-and-so you have your answer

Hotel Assist
Most hotels check ID card before a guest is allowed in the room. Ask the reception at the time of check-in that you want to be warned about ladyboys and reiterate that with the night staff (a little tip at this point will go a long way).

Just ASK
This may seem inappropriate by western culture, but Thais are generally not offended by direct questions and by far most of the time you will get a straight answer. If she says ‘yes’, politely tell her that she is very beautiful, but that you prefer real girls. If she says ‘no’ and you sense any resentment on her part, tell her that you asked because she is so beautiful that it is hard to tell.

What if …
What is you find yourself in a situation where you are fooled and you are now in a room with a ladyboy.
It is natural to be upset at this point, but now is the time to really keep your cool. It is not necessarily the fault of the ladyboy, how is she to know you weren’t looking for that and even if it is her fault you need to negotiate (read buy) yourself out of the situation.
Be nice, be respectful and offer a decent amount for her to leave. It could be 50% of what you agreed on or it may have to be what you agreed on. THE LAST THING you want is a conflict, because you will lose … repeat you will lose. It may be unpleasant to part with some baht, look at it as an investment in the rest of your holiday ... or well being.

Thai Culture
Thais have a culture of being very accepting and Thais do not look at ladyboys in a negative way, at least not for their choice of lifestyle. Unlike westerners Thais are generally not judgmental concerning the choices that people make. A classic phrase comes to mind “Up To You”

If in Doubt
If you are in doubt as to whether she may be a ladyboy, play it safe and don’t engage in a personal encounter much like you would with any girl that you do not fancy.

If You Want
Perhaps you want a ladyboy, indeed many really do. In that case you can use this information in reverse and possibly find the most ‘natural’ ladyboy. Enjoy!

Like the Thais, do respect the ladyboys they are humans like anyone else and deserve to be treated as such. It is OK if you not want any association, just decline like you would with a real girl.
On the flip side you may learn something by buying a ladyboy a lady drink, just for the conversation. You could tell her in advance that you are not ready, but would like to share a drink.

Lookie lookie, but no touchy, touchy
If looking at ladyboys for the visual effect, but want to keep an arms length physically there are options other than people watching from a street side bar. Try a ladyboy show or cabaret. In Bangkok try Calypso Cabaret, in Phuket try Simon Cabaret and in Pattaya try Tiffany Cabaret. All are eye opening and very entertaining. Invite a Thai girl who have never experienced a cabaret like this and you'll have a winner.

Care for a test:
Ladyboy Test for Beginners
Ladyboy Test for Intermediate
Ladyboy Test for Experts

The Ultimate Newbie
Guide to Thailand

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