During the Vietnam war, American Soldiers would come to Thailand for R&R. Since then, Thailand has become known throughout the world as a premier destination for sex tourism.
Today, prostitution in Thailand is a $4.3 billion industry. Prostitutes can be found in every city and province throughout the Kingdom. Despite the underlying problems of human trafficking and HIV/AIDS, prostitution is more than tolerated. It has become a part of the social fabric of Thai society.
Thailand also has a staggering high population of transsexuals, known as ladyboys or katoey. There are so many katoey in Thailand that they have been recognized as a third gender.
This cultural acceptance lies in the tolerant nature of Buddhism, the national religion. Using the notion of Karma, some Thai believe that being a katoey is the result of transgressions in past lives, concluding that katoey deserve pity rather than blame.
Some of the workers featured in this FUMES series are female, some are katoey. You decide.