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What is ladyboy?

Updated: Mar 31

'What is a Ladyboy, anyway?' some might say, but if you have been to Thailand before the chances are you already know the answer. Whether it’s from watching the extravagant dancing beauties in a cabaret show or even from a personal encounter, a ladyboy has many different names and guises: katoey, transgender, transvestite or cross-dresser - someone who is so feminine on every level that it becomes almost impossible to differentiate a ladyboy from a real girl. Of course, we don’t mean the obviously masculine-looking ones but the really pretty ones; those who work for airlines, at cosmetic counters in upmarket shopping malls, as stars of cabaret shows or even television celebrities.

what is shemale?

It is a term that’s coined by the porn industry to identify male to female transsexual.

Before the popularization of transgender women in the media, it was a term that’s only known by insiders. These are men who are into transgender women. The term was also hurled as an insult against the trans community.

Origin of the word

It’s a play of 2 words which are “She” and “Male”. Its long-form can also be read as “She is Male”.

Suffice to say, it discredits the womanhood of transwomen but we will discuss that more in the latter parts.

How does she look like?

Since shemale is an umbrella term for transgender women (albeit offensive), they come in different forms.

Some have undergone hormone replacement therapy and look quite feminine.

Some are natural and some have had cosmetic procedures done i.e. including:

  • breast augmentation

  • hip and buttocks enhancements

  • shaving of the adam’s apple

  • and more

Furthermore, post-op transeoman (the ones who don’t have male genitalia anymore) are sometimes still addressed as shemales.

Word usage popularity

The term is more popular in the west and was popularized in the mid-19th century. Its counterpart in the east would be “Ladyboy”. They kinda share the same meaning and intent.

However, ladyboy is usually less offensive as countries that often use the term don’t speak English as a first language (Thailand, Philippines, etc).

Others also use this term to insult cisgender or trans woman who are deemed to be:

  • an aggressive woman

  • humorous colloquialism for female especially an aggressive one

  • imply that she is working in the streets (prostitute)

  • an individual with less pronounced female secondary sex characteristics

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