Lush gardens, delicious cuisine, statues of fat c**ts. These are all things I do not think about when I think of Bangkok. I’ll admit, sex is foremost in my mind. Now, I’m all for ladies of the night, but it’s not just about ladies here. You gotta hand it to Thailand. They are progressive when it comes to sex. They even recognize transgender people in their constitution. And people around the world have heard of the Thai sex workers known as ladyboys. Reporter: Ladyboys blur the line between western notions of drag and trans. Jefferies: Ladyboys live very openly in Thai society. So how exactly did Thailand crack the code and become more forward thinking than we are? I’m in Bangkok to do extensive research in the name of LGTBQ rights. And I tip generously, so I could sit down with three ladies and an interpreter to learn more. You never hide that you’re ladyboys? You’re always very open about this? I love my penis so I always say I have a penis. Who here still has their penis? I’m gonna say yes. I have the penis. You have a penis? You have a penis? You no longer have the penis? Where did the term “ladyboy” come from? The man come to Thailand. They don’t know she was he. So to take up to the room, and then after take off and, “Holy shit! Lady, but boy.” Oh, no. I get the premise. So in Thailand, they call themselves phet thi sam, which means like a boning queen. A woman who can actually– Top girl. Top girl! Top girl is another word, yeah! Many people in America would say this is not very moral work. What would you say to them? [ SPEAKS IN THAI ] I’m not robbing anyone, I’m not killing anyone. I’m not causing anyone any trouble, so why would you say that? For them, it’s like it comes from their own will. Their own will that they want to be in the sex trade. Look, I feel like you’re living the best of both worlds. You get to dress in flashy clothing and you get to stand up having a piss. But they prefer to use the ladies room. Jefferies: Me too! I love a sit-down wee. Now, I must admit. Before meeting these ladies, my main source of information about Bangkok were movies that took place in Bangkok. DiCaprio: This is it. Bangkok. Good time city. Man: You want girls? I can get you girl. How about boys? You like boys? You in Bangkok, sweetie. There’s a reason they don’t call it Bangc**t. Oh! Jefferies: And maybe all these cartoonish versions distract everyone from learning even the most basic facts about real ladyboys. Do you consider yourself transgender? Yeah. Does the government recognize all your rights? [ SPEAKS IN THAI ] They only accept them in the sex trade. They was telling her that her paperwork is not qualified. For them, they prefer a guy who looks like a guy. Jefferies: I see. So the government is tolerant of trans people as long as they stick to one job. And that can lead to a very extreme choice. Transitioning becomes a financial decision because they have no other way to make money. She says some people cut it off not because they genuinely want it, but for work. Do you experience bigotry from the general public in Thailand? 80% is still anti. Jefferies: I had this all wrong! So I sat down with a Thai LGBTQ activist to learn more. The term “ladyboy.” Is that offensive? Do you think that the sex industry gives Thailand a bad name? The sex industry, yeah. Yeah, because it’s a beautiful country, the food’s amazing. But the first thought that I have when I think of Bangkok is the clubs. Jefferies: Now sure, these three ladies seem to enjoy their jobs. And they told me some f**king dirty, not-for-basic-cable stories. But they at least deserve some other options for work. Even in the west, progress can be slow. But as more and more countries make strides on LGBTQ rights, Guess who’s starting to feel the trickle-down effect? Do the clients mostly prefer you to have penises or not? This is quite a new trend. People want to try a ladyboy with the penis. When they see the dick, they like run into them like, “yes!” Oh, they’re like, “dick! Yeah!” They call us “lady special.” So the penis is in fashion right now? Yeah. Jefferies: That’s right! The penis is in fashion. Before, the girls were cutting them off. But now, most of the men want the penis to be there. Is that progress? Jefferies: Exactly. It’s 2019 for f**k’s sake! Just accept these ladies for who they are. But it did dawn on me that there was one topic we hadn’t discussed. How common is it for women that want to be men in this country? [ SPEAKS IN THAI ] A lot. And more open these days. And she’s saying that there’s ladyboys who also date the lesbian. Oh, right. So there are ladyboys who want to be with women? Women who wants to become man, right? Like a lesbian who also date ladyboy who still have dicks. Life is complicated. Jefferies: You can say that again.