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However, when considering transgender women (Mt F) as a group in Thai society, most refer to themselves as phuying (Thai: ผู้หญิง "women"), with a minority referring to themselves as phuying praphet song (a "second kind of woman") and only very few referring to themselves as kathoey.Although kathoey is often translated as "transgender" in the English usage, this term is not used frequently in Thailand.As well as trans individuals, the term can refer to gay men, and was originally used to refer to intersex individuals.Because of this confusion in translation, the English translation of kathoey is usually "ladyboy" (or variants of the term).The term "kathoey" may be considered pejorative, especially in the form "kathoey-saloey".
Kathoeys are more visible and more accepted in Thai culture than transgender people are in other countries in the world.The winner of the pageant receives a tiara, sash, car, grand price of 100,000 baht (3,000 USD) - equivalent to a yearly wage for a factory worker living in Thailand.In 1993, Thailand's teacher training colleges implemented a semi-formal ban on allowing homosexual (which included kathoey) students enrolling in courses leading to qualification for positions in kindergartens and primary schools.Several popular Thai models, singers and movie stars are kathoeys, and Thai newspapers often print photographs of the winners of female and kathoey beauty contests side by side.The phenomenon is not restricted to urban areas; there are kathoeys in most villages, and kathoey beauty contests are commonly held as part of local fairs.
Legal recognition of kathoeys and transgender individuals is non-existent in Thailand: even if trans people have had genital reassignment surgery, they are not allowed to change their legal sex. Problems can also arise in regards to access to amenities and gender allocation; for example, a kathoey and a transgender person who has undergone sexual reassignment surgery would still have to stay in an all-male prison.