Thousands of people are drawn to Thailand because of Buddha, the delicious food, fascinating culture, and beautiful natural surroundings. Bangkok, the country’s capital, is the leading source of revenue for the treasury. Ladyboys in Bangkok are at least part of the reason for this.

Tourism revenue made up 17.7 percent of the country’s GDP in 2016, compared to a global average of 9 percent in that year.

There is great interest in ladyboy shows and theater, both from foreigners and locals. Thai people are generally accepting of the trans community, and nowhere is this more evident than in Bangkok, ‘the city of smiles.’ Respect is ingrained in local culture, and the capital city is the pulsating heart of the community.

Another reason Bangkok is famous for ladyboys is historical. Trans people were recognized back in the 14th century. Homosexuality was outlawed in the 19th century and trans culture suffered a blow. It started becoming mainstream again in the middle of the last century.

The word for transsexual is “kathoey” in Thai, but this can have a negative connotation so the term is best avoided.

Trans culture is very complex and there is no easy answer to the title question. Ladyboy shows are family-friendly, often with children in the audience. Homosexuality is still not thought highly of in some parts of the country, so these relationships become more acceptable when one partner is playing the feminine role.

People are being born into the wrong gender around the world all the time. The WHO has confirmed gender dysphoria as a health disorder. In Bangkok, the only outlet for this is the ladyboy scene. Biological males (ladyboys) remain privileged.

There have been thousands of gender reassignment surgeries in Bangkok over the past three decades. Trans people from all over the world come here to get surgery. Not only has Bangkok become famous for ladyboys, but also as a medical tourism destination. Of course, the number of prerequisites to undergo surgery has increased in parallel to demand.

Thai cinema reflects ladyboys’ advent into the mainstream of Thai society. The pioneer was the movie The Iron Ladies back in 2000, which portrayed trans people in an exclusively positive light. The plot involves the trials and tribulations of a volleyball team that is almost entirely trans.