THAILAND: The Global Center for Sex Change

THAILAND (South East Asia)                                 

Population: 67 million

– Thailand is the second most aged country in Southeast Asia (next to Singapore), with older persons (60 years old and up) constituting more than 10 per cent of its population.

Fertility Rate:  5.6 children/woman (1970s) vs. 1.6 children/woman (2010)

Life Expectancy:  60 years (1970s) vs. 74 years (2010)

Infant mortality:  15.9 deaths / 1000 live births

Male/Female Ratio:  1.05 male  / female

Major Religion:  Buddhism

-Thailand has the highest number of transsexuals per capita in the world and they are reasonably well accepted as the “third sex” in Thai society.  The country has around 500,000 transgenders known locally in Thailand as “ladyboys” or “katoeys”. 

 – Transsexualism is a condition where an individual identifies him or herself with a gender that contradicts his/her biological sexual orientation.  It can go as far as undergoing sex reassignment surgery (SRS) or sex change to alter one’s gender.   Sex change surgery is a multi-million dollar industry in Thailand and has earned the country the distinction of being the sex change capital of the world.  SRS is so common in the country that it is even advertised in bold print in newspaper classified ads.

– For the past 14 years, the annual Miss Tiffany’s Universe beauty pageant has been a major force in promoting the cause and rights of Thailand’s transgender community.  The pageant attracts a domestic television audience estimated at more than 10 million people.

– The first case of AIDS in Thailand occurred in 1984.  Now, more than 1 million people have HIV/AIDS in the country.  84% of those who have the disease contracted it via unprotected sex, between gay men in particular, which, from 2007-2010, account for 10.5 % of all the patients.  Over 10,000 new patients were diagnosed with this incurable chronic disease in 2011.  25 percent of the total diagnosed patients are in the working group aged between 30-34. 

– Child prostitution is a serious social problem in Thailand as this involves perhaps 800,000 children under the age of sixteen.  Children in prostitution make up 40% of prostitutes in Thailand.  Girls as  young as 10-12 years old service men in the sex industry. Many of the girls typically have sex with ten to fifteen men every day, and sometimes as many as 20 to 30.

– Abortion in Thailand is illegal.  Despite the threat of legal punishment, it is estimated that around 300,000 illegal abortions are carried out each year in Thailand’s backstreet clinics.

– Around one in every 3 married couples in Thailand ended their marriage with divorce in recent years.  Of the more than 285,000 couples who got married in 2010, 30% of which (about 108,000 couples) divorced in the same year.

 – “Senior” divorce is a growing trend as divorce rates among couples over 50 doubles.   In 1990, less than one in ten people who divorced were 50 or older; but in 2009, that figure was one in four.

 – In 1997, the government set forth the National Reproductive Health Policy, which includes family planning and maternal and child health.  Contraceptive prevalence is 80%.  Almost all of the contraceptive methods used in the country are modern methods. Oral contraception is the most popular method, followed by female sterilization and injectables.

 – Thailand’s 100% Condom Program, which was implemented nationwide in 1991, required all sex workers in all commercial entertainment or sex establishments to use condoms with clients.  Health officials provided boxes of condoms free of charge. 


%d bloggers like this: