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Not a Boy and Not a Girl

When I told my friends that I was moving to Thailand there was a fairly standard response – not about the richness of Thai culture or the beauty of the landscape, rather that I was going to live in a country full of cross-dressers. Even my Gran, bless her, responded by saying, “That’s where them men-girls come from, isn’t it?’

It was quite a shock, therefore, when I began my new teaching job to find out that what I had thought was just a stereotype for cheap gags was, in fact, a very camp reality.

Standing in front of a class of 60, 15-year-olds I found that the eyes fluttering flirtatiously at me from the first row were more likely to belong to a boy than to a girl. In every class I taught there were at least three or four boys who were so incredibly effeminate that they made Julian Clary look like Chuck Norris.

The one-in-10 statistic that we’d been told in sex education classes seemed to prove correct. It was not hard to spot which boys either: A plastic hair clip, nail varnish, a handbag or a fake, fur shawl. Even on the days when they had military training, it was not uncommon to see two boys, in camouflage gear and army boots, skipping down the corridor, hand in hand.

As the novelty of seeing this sort of behavior wore off, I was then struck by how tolerated it seemed. In my school days every suspected one-in-10 was systematically singled out and bullied; in the Thai classroom, they were treated like virtual celebrities. Where was the Nazi-like teenage tolerance I was used to? Why did every innuendo and theatrically raised eyebrow meet with applause and delight from classmates?

In the West we are told that in the beginning there was man and woman. A creation myth from the northern Thailand tribe, the Yuan, says that there were also hermaphrodites.

The definition of katoey is “both male and female” and refers to homosexual, transvestite, transsexual, and hermaphrodite. It seems that all these forms of sexuality that I didn’t even know existed until I got the Internet in my bedroom, have been around in Thailand for eons.

“What a tolerant and inclusive society,” I thought, when I heard that the Chiang Mai Technical College had opened up a special toilet block, dubbed “the Pink Lotus Bathroom,” fitted with stalls but no urinals and catering to the needs of the 15 or so katoey students who are too girly to use the men’s but too manly to use the girl’s.


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Added: Sep-6-2008 
By: russes2010
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  • The number of hot Thai chicks still outnumber the small percentage of cross dressers. What the hell is up with the smear campaign against Thailand?

    Your wasting your time. Thailand's reputation as a party place will never be defeated.

    Posted Sep-6-2008 By 

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  • It really is amazing how things so ingrained and seemingly so natural in our culture are so different in other cultures. As a whole, humans really are diverse in every way imaginable.

    Posted Sep-6-2008 By 

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  • Its interesting to note how intolerant the American comments are.

    Posted Sep-6-2008 By 

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    • Comment of user 'Jollymunkie' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • I cant imagine what it sounds like to listen to these "katoey" jib jab away about their new shoes...

    Posted Sep-6-2008 By 

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  • there is something in the water

    Posted Sep-6-2008 By 

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  • tijuana

    Posted Sep-6-2008 By 

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  • Thailand is great. One thing the ladyboys cant hide is the adams apple. The problem is that tourists drink too much and get blind drunk. The ladyboys take advantage of that.
    Ive been all over Thaliand several times and seen it happen alot. Its a good laugh!

    Posted Sep-6-2008 By 

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  • I don't have a problem with homosexuality. But drag queens really annoy the fuck out of me... I don't know why, I guess I just can't identify with them in any way.

    How any man could prefer the company of a man over a woman in bed is beyond me... Oh well...

    Posted Sep-6-2008 By 

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  • So neither boyz or gurlz win its a Thai ?

    Posted Sep-7-2008 By 

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  • Comment of user 'rclark951' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • my girl is thai and she is mint! so fuck you geeks hahahahhahahahahahahahahahahah

    Posted Sep-28-2008 By 

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  • Thai's are alright, but Filipno ladyboys are hot; just check any webcam site.

    Posted Sep-6-2008 By 

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