According to Wikipedia, the term kathoey or katoey (กะเทย) generally refers to a male-to-female transgender person or an effeminate gay male in Thailand.

Personally I think it is wrong, very wrong and goes against everything I believe in. However, I have had to learn also that katoeys are widely accepted here in Thailand. So accepted that there are many that are famous movies stars and pop singers although that is where it ends. Katoeys are seen as entertainment so you won’t see too many running for parliament or as CEO’s or companies.

My wife has a second cousin called Lek. Lek grew up directly opposite Seerungs house and therefore he and his family have been extremely close.

Here is a photo of Lek 4 years ago when he came to visit us when we were living in bangkok. He is 13 years old.


He finished school about 9 months ago and moved to Bangkok to work in a factory aged 17. When we arrived in Thailand back in October we gave him a call and told him to come and see us if he had time. He was really excited and organised to come over that evening.
Just before he arrived I was briefing Ariya on who was coming and telling her that her Uncle Lek was coming to visit. 10 minutes later Lek bursts through the door in a dramatic entrance and with one quick look I turned and said to Ariya, “come and say hello to your Auntie Lek.”

We had heard whispers that something was up but nothing quite this dramatic! He had bits he never had before, wore a skirt and high heels and a lot of make up. Fast forward to yesterday and because of Chinese New Year he had sometime off and came home to the village for a few days with his older brother. This would be the first time his parents had seen the new Lek but as was to be expected didn’t blink much of an eye and it was happy families as usual. Here is a photo of him that I took yesterday.


Leks older brother, also called Lek (don’t ask because I don’t know) is causing some concern. I met Lek 5 years ago and he was the most generous and happy man you could want to find. He would give the shirt of his back to help a stranger. He was married and has the most gorgeous twin daughters. Last year his wife who also worked in a factory (different one) started to not come home during week nights saying she was staying at a friends house because the commute was to tiring (it was) She would come home every weekend however. Then one day she never came home at all, no explanation and they haven’t seen each other since. The change in the man was dramatic. He started drinking when he arrived in the village at 6am, had a sleep and then began drinking when he woke up. He is sullen and quiet and rightfully so everyone is very concerned for him. I wish I could have a talk with him but it just wouldn’t be the done thing and my Thai isn’t good enough to have those sorts of conversation. I hope someone can get through to him soon.

3 responses to “Katoey

  1. A difficult problem concerning the elder Lek. Probably best to hope he drinks it out of his system. How he would take to advice from a farang is difficult to say. Maybe if you want to offer words of encouragement, try taking an elder who he respects with you and then he can hopefully tell him your concerns and wake him up a touch.
    Do you mind me asking what camera you use, lovely sharp photos.

  2. How sad for the elder Lek. What has happened to his twins? Did his wife take them or are they in the village with grandparents?
    The younger one – mmmmmmmmmmmm!
    You can certainly recognise her to the original him. Quick thinking for Ariya!

  3. I feel for older Lek. To have someone you love just abandon you like that must be very hard. I hope he can find some happiness soon.

    Younger Lek, ‘meh whatever makes you happy I guess. Life is too short to walk around miserable.

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