Thai girls are usually not very tall, and in comparison with Western girls, they have short legs relative to their body height. Their breasts are small. The face is chubbier and does not resemble the Western ideal of beauty. Moreover, the nose is perhaps not very friendly for glasses.
However, you can also meet girls more akin to the Western beauty ideal. They have long legs, a square face, and large breasts. If you look closely, you will discover that some of them have an Adam's apple. They also have larger feet and a deeper voice than you would expect from a girl. They are ladyboys; transformed physically from boys and more or less into girls due to the wonders of science.
You will find ladyboys everywhere in the Thai society. You will find them as employees in factories, beauty parlours, and clothing stores, as workers in restaurants - anywhere where you can find ordinary Thai girls. Unfortunately, it is typically those in the sex industry, which is getting all the attention in the Western media, even though they in fact represent only a small part of the Thai ladyboys.
The girl in the picture here is named Whan, she works in No. 1 Friendly Restaurant on Rat-U-Thit in Patong.
Ladyboys regard themselves as girls, and the Thais consider them as girls. Generally, the Thai society accepts ladyboys, which is one reason why the transformation from boy to girl is typically more successful than for western men who undergo a sex change. Due to the acceptance, Thai ladyboys often start on hormone therapy while in their teens - before they develop a typical male body.
In the West, it typically takes transsexuals many years to achieve self-knowledge and to accept who they are. They then must go through a long process in the health system before they can begin hormone therapy and before they can have the necessary operations. By then, they have already developed a male body.
You can see how successful the transformation of ladyboys can be at Miss Tiffany's Universe's website. Miss Tiffany is a cabaret show, which holds an annual beauty contest for ladyboys from all over the world.
Some ladyboys have undergone a complete transformation from boy to girl, while others choose to either avoid or postpone the final operation, so they still have their male equipment.
In Thailand, every citizen above the age of 15 years has to carry a personal ID card. While the Thai society generally accepts ladyboys, their Thai ID card still lists them by the sex at birth.
In recent years, transsexuals in Thailand have been fighting for the right to change the sex on the ID card. Partly because they feel it is a preventing them from a full transformation, and partly because it can cause problems if the photo shows a young man, while the card owner is a woman.
From boy to ladyboy
The first step in the transformation from boy to ladyboy is hormone therapy. It is not unheard of that the boys in Thailand start a self-controlled hormone therapy in their early teens by buying hormones from a pharmacy. Usually, the pharmacies will gladly sell the hormones to teenage boys, even though you actually need a prescription for the hormones. In the West, it is usually required a long wait and mental health counselling before hormone treatment may be considered, but that is not how it works in Thailand.
Hormonal treatment suppresses the male hormone testosterone and changes the body's fat distribution, which also means larger breasts. If the treatment starts early, it can prevent male hair growth and a more male body type.
The next step is different treatments and operations. For example, it may be laser removal of hair growth, breast operation and reduction of the Adam's apple.
The last step in the transformation is the removal of testicles and the penis. Usually, the surgeon inverts the skin of foreskin and penis to form a fully sensitive vagina. Moreover, a part of the glans becomes a clitoris. If surgery is successful, you cannot see the difference between a ladyboy and a girl who was born as a girl. At best, it is possible for the ladyboy to have an orgasm.
To learn more about hormone treatment and its effects, you can visit Wikipedia's page about Hormone replacement therapy. If you want to know more about the final operation, you can read more on Wikipedia's page about Sex reassignment surgery.
For a man, it can be quite difficult to read (and write) about the final operation, so let me lighten up the mood a bit with a little joke:
Thai Girl: Well, John, a small penis is not a problem as long as we love each other.
John: I know, but I still wish you didn't have it.