Conceptualizing Thai Genderscapes: Transformation and Continuity in the Thai Sex/Gender System

  • Dredge Byung’chu Käng


In Thailand, genderscapes, or the terrain of gender and sexuality, continue to evolve quickly, with alternative genders proliferating. I argue that genderscapes provide a provisional conceptualization of contemporary Thai gender and sexuality. The lines between tom : woman : kathoey : gay : man are neither clear nor fixed, but coalesce around these five key formations. These categories are grounded via the repetition and ritualization of routine practices in everyday life as they appear to others but also remain fluid in that gender performances exceed their intentions and interpretations. Genderscapes also account for historical transformations and the localization of foreign influences. Local gender variation, rather than being usurped by modern Western forms, continues to expand. Furthermore, genderscapes remain flexible to the social positioning and ideological stances of individuals. In this chapter, I underscore that genderscapes are inhabited and conditioned by one’s class position and shaped by social evaluation and moral legitimacy.


Sexual Minority Gender Category Gender Expression Moral Valence Thai Society 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank Nguyễn Tân Hoàng, Mark Johnson, and Evelyn Blackwood, who provided feedback on sections of this chapter. Bene Nightchild was an encouraging Facebook interlocutor. Dr. Pimpawan Boonmongkol of Mahidol University, my local research sponsor, smoothed the way for me when necessary. My research project (Gender Pluralism, Social Status, and Asian Regionalism in Bangkok, Thailand) was approved by the Office of the National Research Council of Thailand. Research funding was provided by the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Anthropology, Epidemiology, and Global HealthEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA

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