The 3 Stages of a Ladyboy – Transitions of a Thai Lady Boy

The 3 Stages of a Ladyboy - Transitions of a Thai Lady Boy
I think it’s worth exploring the different types of Thai Ladyboy you will find, or moreover, the stages or transition a Ladyboy will typically go through.


A femboy is what some might see as a very feminine gay guy. While some Ladyboy lovers will feel totally un-attracted to femboy types and not like the idea of calling them Ladyboys, in many cases these are simply young Ladyboys who are in their early stages of transition.

Due to their circumstances they may not look totally convincing as a girl, they may not dress completely femininely or even have long hair or wear make-up, but something in their mannerisms and demeanor will suggest that they are more feminine than masculine, and it’s likely their friends and peers will already refer to them as a Ladyboy.

Most Ladyboys in Thailand decide they want to “make the change” at a very young age, but due to a strict school code many are unable to grow their hair long or express their femininity until after they have completed their education, despite the general acceptance of Ladyboys in Thai culture. Even once these young Ladyboys have finished their education it may take many years before they can really live with full freedom and expression, simply because many of the operations they dream of having are expensive and it’s harder to get an honest job if you look like a Ladyboy. Many, however, will still take hormone capsules from a young age to create a more feminine look, often achieving much softer skin and growing small breasts.


A pre-op Ladyboy is the next stage of transition and what many people would call ‘a proper Ladyboy.’

The term ‘op’ refers to SRS surgery (the operation having their penis removed and a vagina created), and pre-op means they haven’t had this surgery done yet. However, unlike the term femboy, the term pre-op Ladyboy usually refers to someone who looks, dresses and acts extremely femininely all of the time, and in most cases they will also have had breast implants.

Most of the Ladyboys you will find working in the bars and gogos of Thailand will be at this stage of their transition, and many will have spent a lot of money on all kinds of surgery, from nose jobs, to cheek and hip implants. In many cases the only operation they have yet to take is the SRS surgery (aka the chop!).


A post-op Ladyboy refers to a Ladyboy that has had SRS surgery and no longer has a penis, but has a man-made vagina in its place.

It’s not always easy to tell the difference between a pre-op and post-op as many pre-ops have already had every other operation to look as feminine and lady like as possible, but you are far less likely to find a post-op Ladyboy working in a Ladyboy bar (with the exception of one or two post-op bars such as King’s Corner in Patpong, Bangkok, and Voodoo in Bangkok’s Nana Plaza).

Post-op Ladyboys tend to not be as popular with Ladyboy lovers, which is one reason why many Ladyboys working in bars choose to stay as a pre-op for much longer. Many post-ops will try to pass themselves off as real girls, and the more convincing ones will be allowed to work in ‘girl only’ bars and gogos (you’d probably be shocked if you discovered just how many post-op Ladyboys are making a living as a real girl in some of Thailand’s most popular gogo bars).

Blurring of the Boundaries

As with any talk of gender there are obviously those who don’t fit neatly into given categories and blur such boundaries. You may find that some Ladyboys live their life without ever taking hormones or having any operations, and yet they remain very totally convincing and feminine, while some may have breasts and hip implants and achieve very feminine figures, and yet choose to live a somewhat masculine lifestyle continuing to have some many masculine parts to their personality. Then there are Thailand’s drag artists who work alongside the Ladyboys in cabaret shows and often look and act as feminine on stage, but once the show is over choose to remove their dresses and make up and return to a very male role.

Whereas the term Ladyboy and other transgender terms totally destroys the idea of having simple male and female gender categories, to assume that all Ladyboys can neatly fit into such categories as femboy, post-op, and pre-op, is equally as naïve; these are simply terms to loosely describe the types of Ladyboy you are likely to meet in Thailand.

When is a Ladyboy a LADYBOY?

Ultimately, many Ladyboys will go through some or all these different stages of transition, and undertake a lot of expensive and painful operations in order to reach their ultimate look and goal. In my opinion, to say that at any stage someone is more a Ladyboy than during other stages would be wrong, especially when considering that their stage of transition is often determined by their financial and/or social circumstance, which should not be factors in determining someone’s gender.

The term Ladyboy perhaps best encompasses a state of mind rather than an achieved physical state, and you will often find that some of the less feminine looking Ladyboys are still very naturally feminine in their behavior, demeanor and nature

Posted on Gods of Thailand March 11, 2015 in


Kal is known as the Ladyboy Guru of Thailand. In addition to this article, Kal will be sharing his Ladyboy advice and expertise every week on Gods of Thailand. Click here to sign up for our Ladyboy Newsletter and get these updates emailed directly to you in real time.

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