Thailand is known and admired worldwide for its cultural openness to transgender women. Note that the emphasis is on the word cultural. For when they enter the legal sphere, discrimination still hits at transgender women at every turn.
Many may find this fact hard to believe. Transgender women, or katoey in Thai, enjoy relatively high visibility in our society. They appear on television shows and dramas. Their cabaret shows attract tourists from around the world. They are famous fashion designers, hairdressers, dressmakers, and make-up artists. Many are successful entrepreneurs.
The country is also among the world's top destinations for sex change operations. Thailand is undeniably a haven for transgender women when suppression and severe social stigma are still the rule for most other countries.
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