In Thailand, appearances always come before substance. School girls modify their school uniforms and spend all their pocket money on makeup and hairdos. There are many office ladies who spend a considerable amount of time in a ran serm suay or beauty salon after work.
The men may not be as self-conscious about their appearances, but there is one group of men who are even more vain than the ladies. In Thai, krathoey means ladyboy or transvestite and because Thai society is relatively tolerant to cross-dressing people working amongst them (even though people do make fun of them once in a while), there is little reason for these folks to hide their lingerie in their closets.
Anyone who has seen the Tiffany Show or the Alcazar Show in Pattaya would have been fooled into believing that those “girls” dancing one the stage are genuine females if nobody told them that they are in fact male impersonators. True or exaggerated, there are stories of punters finding out that they have slept with a krathoey only the morning after.
So how do you avoid bringing a krathoey home? Here are some pointers on identifying krathoeys without checking their ICs (which you probably can’t read and can be faked anyway). Please note that these are just guidelines. If you choose to follow them, take note that I’m not responsible for any mistakes or damage you may suffer as a result.
1. Don’t get yourself drunk. You need to be quite sober to tell a krathoey from a genuine female.
2. Check for “her” Adam’s apple. This is obviously the easiest way to tell a krathoey. Listen to the voice too. Having said that, the Adam’s apple can be surgically removed. Note that surgery on the Adam’s apple does not change the pitch of one’s voice.
3. Not absolutely reliable, but check out “her” hands (feet might be a bit difficult). Asian men tend to have smaller hands, but check for the muscularity and definition. The thickness of the skin around the elbow is also an indicator. Healthy males have little fat under their skin. Their veins tend to be more prominent. Females of comparable size will have considerably more fat. Their veins are small and much less prominent.
4. Height, frame, physique. Any one of the 3 factors may not be reliable indicators of gender (Thai men may be short), but with all 3 taken into consideration, you can tell who the krathoey is. Don’t forget to check out the shoulder width.
5. Birds of a feather flock together. Look at the krathoey’s friends. Again, not absolutely reliable, but the majority of a krathoey’s closest friends are usually also krathoeys.
6. Exaggerated femininity. This is usually obvious. A krathoey often exaggerates his femininity. People who can’t stand it may feel nauseated.
7. Excessive makeup. Again, some men can have such flawless skin, but the majority need to hide their pores and fine facial hair with extra thick makeup. Feel “her” chin if you can. Even the clean-shaven will sprout a detectable 0.2mm of coarse facial hair after a few hours.
8. Buy “her” lots of drinks. Get “her” to use a public toilet. Krathoeys use the men’s room.
9. Lips can be surgically altered, but even a very meticulous (and generously-sponsored) krathoey may ignore the ears. Ears come in all shapes and sizes, but if the ears are large and hairy, they are likely to belong to males.
10. Feel the pulse. You don’t have to be a TCM practitioner. Just pretend to be one. Healthy men tend to have stronger pulses than women.
That’s all I can think of. Have fun.
Can you tell that she’s a krathoey? Well, if “she” looks this good, then good luck to you.
© Chan Joon Yee