Glossary of Thai gender and sex terminology

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This page lists words in Thai related to gender and sex. They are sorted according to the original Thai words.

D[edit | edit source]

Dee: A lesbian or bisexual woman who follows outward gender norms. Historically, the distinction of dee was a relationship with tom, a better-defined category. However, the dee identity is becoming more solidified, so that some women claim to have been "born to be dees".

K[edit | edit source]

กะเทย (kathoey): Term for a specific type of transgender person, connoting that the person self-identifies as a type of male but may undergo physical feminization, use female pronouns, and/or dress in female clothing. Thais may see kathoey as a third gender, or a type of male or female. The term "ladyboy" is used in English conversation and has become popular in South Asia. "Kathoey" may be used as a pejorative. Compare with สาวประเภทสอง (sao praphet song) and เพศที่สาม (phet thi sam). The term phu-ying praphet thi sorng, or "woman of the second kind", can also refer to kathoey.

S[edit | edit source]

สาวประเภทสอง (sao praphet song): Literally "a second type of woman". Roughly equivalent to "trans women" in the Western usage.

T[edit | edit source]

Tom: A woman who dresses and acts in a masculine way, and uses masculine pronouns. A well-defined alternative to normative femininity., it is associated with lesbianism, but is more a female gender identity than a marker of sexuality (unlike "butch"). See "Tom-Dee Identity".

Tom-Dee Identity: Identities for women who are traditionally masculine (tom) or feminine (dee), with implications that a dee would date a tom - though both are more gender than sexual identites. Buddhist teachings in Thailand discourage violence towards toms and dees, seeing these identities as the result of karma from past lives and a cause for pity.

Sources and Further Reading[edit | edit source]

Totman, Richard (2003). The Third Sex: Kathoey: Thailand's Ladyboys. London: Souvenir Press.

Sinnott, Megan (2004). Toms and Dees: Transgender Identity and Female Same-sex Relationships in Thailand. Honolulu: U of Hawaii.


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