Thai LGBT vocabulary

Back in the United States there is presently a considerable dust up over which bathrooms certain people of non-standard sexual orientation should use. In fact, one state, North Carolina, made a law stating that one must use the bathroom designated for the sex that is on your birth certificate, not the sex you identify yourself as. I guess they would have to have monitors checking birth certificates at the door before letting you into the WC.

Because this is all in the news lately, and because in Thailand, differing sexual orientations are not considered that strange or immoral, I thought some LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual) Thai words might prove handy.

Note that many of the most popular words are on loan from English but Thai has its own robust vocabulary for this social phenomenon (very common to all cultures). I’ll use mostly polite terms, and leave the more colorful vocabulary for another time and place.

Let’s start with some general terms.


The word most non-Thai speakers know is กะเทย. It is a common catch-all word and is not derogatory when used by Thais. Another word in common usage is the English loan word เกย์ (gay) used in exactly the same way the English word is used.

Thai vocabulary words are sometimes quite descriptive and note that they emphasize feelings instead of physical activities.

The word ชอบเพศเดียวกัน literally means “like the same sex”.

ชอบ – like
เพศ – sex
เดียวกัน – same

And the related รักร่วมเพศ (“loving the same sex”)

รัก – love
ร่วม – together
เพศ – sex

And of course there is the very well-known and well-used loan word “Lady Boy”. It is a term for transsexual that is ubiquitous in Thailand (in this case a male who feels and acts as a female), pronounced exactly like it is in English. But lately there is a new term that is much more descriptive and which also shows a little of how people feel about transsexuals here.

It is ผู้หญิงประเภทสอง, literally “A woman of the second type”. So in a Thai’s eyes there are two types of women. The first is born a female, and the second is born a male but has now become a female.


ผู้หญิง – female

ประเภท – type, category

สอง – two, second

LGBT Words


The loan word เลสเบี้ยน (pronounced as in English) is now in common usage. There are other English loan words that have become Thai slang like, ดี้ (pronounced “dee” as in “lady”) and ทอม (“tom” as in “tomboy”).

And of course the more descriptive หญิงรักร่วมเพศ (“girl who loves the same sex’”)

หญิง – girl
รัก – love
ร่วม – together
เพศ – sex


This terms we have already mentioned, เกย์ and กะเทย need no explanation except that there is usually a lack of condemnation when they are used.


As usual Thai slang can be taken directly from English as in the term “bi”, but there also is the more descriptive term มีสองเพศ (‘to have two sexes).

มี – have
สอง – two
เพศ – sex


The terms “lady boy” and ผู้หญิงประเภทสอง as mentioned above can be used here. But we also can break the Thai terms down into two categories, non and post-operative.

The term ผู้ถูกเปลี่ยนเพศ (“a person who has had a sex change”)

ผู้ – a person who
ถูก – has had something done to him/her
เปลี่ยน – change
เพศ – sex

And then there is term which is inclusive of both male and female transsexuals ผู้ทีมีสภาพจิตใจคล้ายเพศตรงข้าม (“a person who has the characteristics and mind of someone of the opposite sex”)

ผู้ – a person
ที – which
มี – has
สภาพ – condition
จิตใจ – mind
คล้าย – like
เพศ – sex
ตรงข้าม – opposite

ผู้หญิงประเภทสอง - From the Miss Tiffany contest of transgenders. Which WC should they use in North Carolina?

ผู้หญิงประเภทสอง – From the Miss Tiffany contest of transgenders. Which WC should they use in North Carolina?

Not that there is anything wrong with it, but now you should be armed with the vocabulary to speak with your Thai friends about the goings on in North Carolina.


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