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Ladyboys: The Secret World of Thailand's Third Gender

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  224 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
An intimate portrait of Thailand's ladyboys: the men who have chosen to become women. The book offers intimate details of the lives that they've never publicly revealed. They talk about the choices they've made, their relationships, families, frustrations and hopes.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 15th 2008 by Maverick House
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Petra Eggs
I finished the book awhile back but couldn't think how to sum it up. It wasn't just about the big-boobed, shaved Adam's apple nightclub sex performers, or those who still had 'snakes' in their panties, it was also about indigent old ladies who had lived as men almost all their lives. And about those who started off in the sex trade but had gone on to become successful in business. Those that had done it for business were often gay, those that had always felt that way were not usually but dreams ...more
Kiezin Teng
Nov 03, 2013 Kiezin Teng rated it liked it
When reading a collection of stories, we can choose to think about the book as a sum of the individual stories, or to think about the narrative stringing these stories together. And unfortunately, for this book, the narrative is much more interesting (and thought provoking) than the individual stories.

As stories read together, this book offers us a peep into the lives of the ladyboys through their own words. We know, briefly, the story of these ladyboys - how it was like growing up, when did the
Feb 06, 2010 Bora rated it really liked it
I watched a ladyboy show in Bangkok and have been fascinated with them ever since. In fact, one of the performers I saw there had her story featured in the book. The book is a collection of stories from ladyboys in all walks of life - from the prostitute to the performer, entrepreneur and even a Muay Thai boxer. After a few stories, you hear a lot of the same emotions so the stories start to mesh together and because it's been translated, you hear the same voice through the different stories. I ...more
Jul 18, 2013 Wings rated it really liked it
maybe i will always remember the day and night i spent in pattaya. i've never imagine that i can arrive a city that so compatible with those unique people's real heart.

the travel to thai leave a deep impression on me, i love the passion of pattaya ,love the night full of neon light and street full of people who drunk and tempt to date with prostitute. they make a print that show the open and instinct attitude of everyday life, we all wear mask to pretend ourself a good look and better f
This was an interesting book and the individual oral histories are illuminating and often quite touching, but I was disappointed there wasn't more context (historical, sociological, anthropological) offered by the editors. There is nothing here to help the reader understand the historical background of kathoey, the economic and social experiences of the ladyboys interviewed, or even why these particular individuals were chosen (beyond some of them having been employed by the same clubs in Patpon ...more
Francis Franklin
Sep 22, 2013 Francis Franklin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt, true, gender, sexuality
This is a collection of life stories of ladyboys, described by the authors as 'a personal venture into humanity'.

The book is well written and an easy read, and importantly it's a very human look at a group of people who struggle daily with something that the rest of us take for granted. Some are prostitutes, some are dancers, some are other. Some are religious. Some are educated. Some have come to terms with who they are.

It is a cruel twist of biological fate when your body and mind disagree abo
Andie Jayne
Jan 16, 2017 Andie Jayne rated it it was ok
I found this a really sad book to read. The stories detailed very tough lives of some very strong women (ladyboys / kathoeys). Unfortunately, the stories were very repetitive and there was no social history or commentary on the existence or significance of ladyboys in Thai culture, to support or give context to their stories, which I was expecting.
The stories seem to be told/ written by the kathoeys themselves and they are not written that well. There also seems to be no order to the stories. I
Jan 09, 2015 Hmmp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Touching stories about difficult lives. Variety of different personalities and careers was eye-opening. It was also surprising how all of them strongly identified themselves as females, as opposed to gender discussion in western world where wider range of genders or positions between male and female are defended to be needed.
Apr 23, 2009 Amanda rated it liked it
Read this while I was in Thailand. Pretty interesting. It's a series of first-hand accounts of ladyboys. There are great patterns and surprises. A little graphic at times, which is to be expected. It's amazing how many worlds and cultures exist alongside our own (even in our own cities) without our always realizing it.
Veena Singh
Feb 12, 2017 Veena Singh rated it liked it
It was alright. I expected more, i was captivated by some, but then found some errors and repetition. I wanted to read more of their lived realities and experiences. I wanted to know more about their day-to day life. What were some enabling factors to success and also disabling factors.
Colin Murphy
Feb 04, 2017 Colin Murphy rated it did not like it
Apparently all ladyboys are massive man whores. Best quote of the book: "The fact that I have a penis makes me less marketable because men generally want women with vaginas."
Danial Tanvir
Feb 19, 2017 Danial Tanvir rated it it was amazing
This book was just brilliant and I loved it!.
I bought it from a small book shop in Bangkok, Thailand!.
it is actually about the third gender , about lady boys in Thailand.
it is a collection of short stories about lady boys who get their gender changed and its about how they sell their body and is all about sex.
its all about how these lady boys get their sex changed by taking hormones etc.
it is based in Thailand!.
I have been to Thailand around 7 times and I loved this book as I could relate to al
Oct 14, 2016 Sun rated it really liked it
A book I saw at Bangkok Airport and thought looked interesting. It was. When it comes to people who are not "the norm", my immediate reaction is to ask why are they different and to try and understand what made them that way. A scientific perspective, if you like. This book is the total opposite, in that it just accepts the ladyboys as they are and presents each in their own words, telling their life stories. Each chapter details the story of one ladyboy and they are very diverse stories, some a ...more
Nov 05, 2016 Tserzang rated it liked it
This book was not as good as I anticipated. None the less, I did like reading it. The book is about the personal accounts of some of the many lady boys of Thailand. Their expectations are more or less the same. But the funny thing about it is how they say that most men can't make out whether they are transgender or not and how drunk men have sex with them. And I can't help thinking how many man must have had sex with them unknowingly. I can't help feeling amused when I think about I wo ...more
Sep 19, 2013 Iangagn rated it liked it
This book is both good and bad; the stories it contains give us insight into the world of Thailand's male transgenders, and it is well balanced between the cheerful aspects of their lives and the hardships that they face, but the authors only give us a brief introduction to the subject and they do not elaborate on it themselves. I would still recommend it because some of the anecdotes are very moving, but this book is nothing more than a collection of stories, and it is darned repetitive.
Jun 19, 2012 Claire rated it really liked it
A fascinating read and insight into the lives and emotions of the ladyboys of Thailand, covering a whole plethora of backgrounds; from the poverty stricken elderly dancer to the successful entrepreneur and the famous Muay Thai boxer. The only criticism I have is that the narrative is very similar in each story due to the translation, and I would have preferred to 'hear' the individual voice of each of the participants.
Sep 08, 2012 Courtney rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People on holidays in Thailand
This book was very interesting to begin with, but as it contains many short stories of people's lives, they became somewhat repetitive and it was difficult for me to gain a strong connection to any of them. By the end I was reading the book just to get to the end of it - I don't like leaving a book only partially read. I would've scored the book much higher if it focussed solely on one story and went further into the details of their lives.
Dvir Oren
Sep 13, 2015 Dvir Oren rated it really liked it
great collection of short stories, and very insightful into the intimate lifes of ladyboys in Thailand. this was an interesting intimiate glimpse into their lives from different stories of different girls.

I highly recommend you read this book if you find ladyboys interesting, they are humans just like everyone else, and deserve to be treated as they want to.
Jul 27, 2015 Jamie rated it really liked it
Shelves: enypl
The stories do start to sound a little bit the same because it is the same interviewer and translator writing this. The writing is fine. The four stars is because I appreciated the openness of the interviewees in sharing their stories. Also interesting was the information about Thai culture in general.
Jul 01, 2014 Mindy rated it it was ok
This book was recommended to me by my brother who has a summer beach house in Thailand and has seen many a ladyboy. The book is not like anything I would normally read. It gave an interesting perspective to a lifestyle that I knew little, if anything about. A lot of the stories seemed the same, however, and towards the end of the book, I just thought it was getting too repetitive.
Tim Rhind
Dec 31, 2012 Tim Rhind rated it it was ok
Kind of sad lives or tough lives that most of them have. Clearly not a choice but who they are. Many of the subjects in the book had difficult starts. Hopefully with more of them in the media and seen in the mainstream in Thailand it will be easier for the next generation.
Feb 06, 2009 Andrew rated it really liked it
Wonderful set of first person narratives written skilfully from interviews. Gives amazing insight into the lives of transgenders in Thailand, and includes amazing interviews with katoey (Transgnders) in their 60's and 70's
Reem Alshaiba
Jan 11, 2016 Reem Alshaiba rated it liked it
i bought this book on my last trip to thailand , if your interested in the world of ladyboys and u have some free time its a nice book to read , at beginning its nice but soon it starts to get pretty repetitive as the stories start looking similar ...
Robin Bower
Aug 27, 2013 Robin Bower rated it it was ok
Some interesting personal stories of real people. Very sad that they go through so much pain to be real women.
Sep 22, 2009 Lily rated it really liked it
Read while in Thailand, an interesting read into part of Thai culture. Good for rainy season while traveling. ^.^ (Or when it's just too hot to go out sightseeing)
Elisabeth Oktofani
Sep 13, 2010 Elisabeth Oktofani rated it really liked it
I have not finished reading it yet. But so far, I can tell that ladyboys are just another form of human being that we should accept them as what and who they are.
Sabrina Txy
Jul 26, 2016 Sabrina Txy rated it liked it
Great new perspectives from reading this book.
Tina Hernandez
Apr 12, 2013 Tina Hernandez rated it liked it
Interesting read into why Ladyboys is so prevalent in South East Asia, especially in Thailand.
Sep 29, 2016 Elham rated it really liked it
interesting eye opener. expect a shift in perspective after this read.
Feb 13, 2016 PK rated it liked it
Some good cultural info here that sheds light on a seldom-written-about social issue gaining more interest throughout the world.
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