• Audiences in Sydney and Newcastle will soon be treated to a display by 20 of the best trans showgirls Thailand has to offer. (Ladyboy Cabaret)Source: Ladyboy Cabaret
Transgender Thai dancers are reclaiming the term 'ladyboy’ and hope to use it to promote acceptance.
By
Bianca Soldani

19 Apr 2016 - 8:48 AM  UPDATED 19 Apr 2016 - 8:48 AM

Sydneysiders will soon be treated to a taste of Thailand when trans troupe Ladyboys Cabaret descends on the city for a season of shows next month.

More than 20 showgirls decked out in the most elaborate costumes and jewellery pieces will be bringing their extra glittery brand of song and dance to the Big Top at Moore Park after dazzling crowds in Newcastle first.

By reclaiming the term 'ladyboy’, the dancers - who were selected from cabaret shows in the Thai nightlife capital of Pattaya - hope to distance themselves from the negative connotations often attached to the label, and instead promote acceptance.

The show's producer Damian Syred, told SBS Sexuality: "Ladyboys still have that stigma attached, obviously to do with the sex industry in Thailand, and that was a concern with bringing the show over here, that people would have that preconception."

"What we’re trying to do is show that they are just performers and are very talented at what they do and they do look amazing. It's showing people that they are just normal like the rest of us and [their gender] was just a mistake at birth,' he says, "It’s creating awareness".

It is estimated that one per cent of the population in Thailand are transgender and are commonly referred to as 'kathoeys' or members of the 'third sex'.

"For the ladyboys in Thailand it’s easier because it is much more accepted, probably not so much over here but I always like to think that Australia is broadening our ideas on [transgender issues]," Syred explains.

He adds that they deliberated long and hard before including the word 'ladyboy' in the show's title but that "all the performers are quite happy to be referred to as ladyboys and I think it does let the public know exactly what the show is about".

Their May shows will be the first time Thailand Ladyboy Superstars Cabaret has been in Sydney and viewers can expect a unique take on Vegas-style cabaret which will include comedy sequences and tracks by Kylie Minogue and Tina Turner. Feathers, diamantes and sequins should also be in abundance.

The troupe kicked off their tour in Adelaide last September and also plan to travel to Melbourne later in the year.

Thailand last year solidified their acceptance of trans issues to some degree by introducing the country's first law to protect LGBTI people against discrimination.

Six month jail terms can now be given to those guilty of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and anti-LGBTI policies have been banned.

Same-sex marriage, however, has yet to legallised despite material progress being made on the matter in 2012.

Thailand Ladyboy Superstars Cabaret will be in Newcastle from May 6 to 15 and Sydney from May 26 to June 19.