Ladyboy, transsexual, shemale? Know your lingo!

When I first started my blog, I knew that “ladyboy” was not the most common and accepted word for calling them. Actually, there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about the terms. You can find misleading information on the Internet of course, as it is very common for any niche vocabulary. But the most confusing is when these special girls that we like so much can’t even agree themselves!

Shemales are for the porn industry

That’s correct, the word shemale comes from the porn industry and is absolutely not used in real life. You have probably yet spent time on porn website (come on, everybody does) and of course noticed that strange word, shemale. I have no idea where this word comes from (contraction of “she” and “male”, the mix between a girl and a boy, okay…) nor why everybody in the porn industry decided to use it. Nevertheless, bear in mind that this term is not politically correct and that you could get ditched away very quickly if you use it in front of a transgirl. That will give her a bad image of you, the image of someone whose only education about transgirls comes from the xxx videos he watches. 100% (or so…) of the concerned girls will tell you that they don’t like nor employ that word.

The ladyboys of Thailand

They have a name for it in Thailand, it’s “kathoey”. That term can have a quite broad meaning, because Thai people use it for a transgender person as well as for an effeminate gay man. (nb: there is a corresponding word in the Philippines which is less famous abroad: bakla, I will write more about it in another post). With the globalisation and the expansion of the kathoey phenomenon, people decided that they needed an english word for that, and here is how ladyboy started to be in use.

There is quite a disagreement amongst the LGBT community about whether this term is correct or not. The opposition will say that it’s a pejorative and porn-related term; indeed, it’s widely used as well on the porn websites (but the politically correct term “transsexual” is also employed in pornish websites!). I do believe that this is a correct term, and actually most of my transsexual friends believe it also. Anne, my Filipino TS girlfriend, also employs this term and she is a well educated person.

I think there is a amalgam between the part of the Thai ladyboys who are engaged in the sex industry, and the others. Because this word comes from Thailand for sure, but I don’t believe it’s right to categorise that every Thai transsexual woman is a sex worker, that is not right.

Not to confond with trannies and cross-dressers

Tranny, cross-dresser, drag-queen, transformist… you might find these words very close but there is actually a difference between a ladyboy and a tranny/CD/DQ/transformist. A ladyboy lives as a woman because she feels she is a woman, and wants to live and be accepted as it. A tranny or cross-dresser is slightly different, it’s a man who likes to dress as a girl because it’s a sexual fantasy for him. A CD will usually be a girl only at night, when he goes clubbing… Drag-Queens and transformists are dancers who perform in drag-queen shows, they might even be straight men who do it only as a job, be aware of that.

If you want to be politically correct, cal them transsexual

Of coures the correct word will always be “transsexual woman” as it refers to the scientific term for that. You could even be more correct by stating “MTF transsexual woman” that stands for “Male To Female”, or even transgender… However, that sounds a little “too much” and can be embarrassing to use for your girlfriend in public places for sure. Then you can use the short word “TS” or “T girl” or even “TS girl”… that will for sure not offend anybody.

If you are dating a ladyboy, it is important that you use the correct terminology. You can’t even imagine how sensitive the topic is for her, and how sensitive she can feel about it if you call her a pornish name like “shemale” or “chick with dick” or “dick girl”… Forget about all of that, show that you have some culture, tact and respect for her and special girls like her.

One of my ex-girlfriends (before Anne) liked me to call her “gifted girl” or “special girl”. I also agree that it doesn’t offend anyone and is also a nice way of calling them, because yeah, they are very special girls, and yeah, having a ladyboy girlfriend should be considered as a gift because not every man on earth can brag having one ;-)

I do hope this helps you to better understand what you are looking for, and how you should address a special girl when you’re on a date with her, or approaching her in a bar. Respect (and knowledge) are the key words here!

French young man living in the Philippines with my ladyboy girlfriend. I wrote a book about my experience on dating transwomen here http://howtodatealadyboy.com and I created the first decent dating site for transwomen there http://myladyboydate.com

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6 thoughts on “Ladyboy, transsexual, shemale? Know your lingo!

  1. I like your article…although please note that the term used for transgendered and effeminate gay men in Cebu City and the Visaya region of the Philippines is “Bayot”. You will often here the bayot yell out at each other “Bayot”, before commenting on any issue of discussion. Also, I agree that among the transgendered individuals in SouthEast Asia, using the word ladyboy is not a perjorative term, although to call a trangendered/transexual girl a ladyboy in the U.S., might be a grave insult. The key thing is that the proper term of description, if you must describe, is culturally specific. Thus, in the U.S., the correct and most sensitive term is “transgendered”, and the only time the word “transexual” should be used is for those individuals who desire sexual reassignment surgery.

    Thanks for you your great post and continued best of luck to you.

    • Thanks for your comment Randi. You are right, the term ladyboy has different connotation in our western countries, I could experience it in the past lol. I am currently in Cebu and I can hear this “bayot” a lot here. Funny actually because Filipinos don’t really make the distingo between a gay and a transgendered person, they will employ the same word “bakla” or “bayot” for both of them most of the time.

  2. I would also like to say that your articles are very informative. To be honest this whole area is fraught with difficulties. I long ago resigned myself to the fact that sooner or later you are going to offend someone – simply by using the wrong term at the wrong time. At the very least I always try to be respectful.

    When I am chatting with ladyboys over the web (in my never ending search for the one) I tend to use the term ladyboy as a general term, but refer to the person I am chatting with as a girl. That seems to work ok. Some ladyboys can be very frank and are willing to discuss in detail their sexuality with you. This can be very enlightening and has taught me a lot. Haha, they always ask: “are you gay?”, think you answered that one in another of your posts.

  3. I read your article and I found it very informative. But, I wanted to clear up a couple of facts. Did you say that the best way to categorize what people would call “ladyboys” in Thailand as “kathoey”? And would that same catergorization apply to non-op ?

  4. Pingback: Transgender dating tips for the non-first timers… | My ladyboy date blog

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