Many kathoey work in predominately female occupations, such as in shops, restaurants, and beauty salons, but also in factories (a reflection of Thailand's high proportion of female industrial workers).
Kathoeys are more visible and more accepted in Thai culture than transgender people are in other countries in the world.
A significant number of Thais perceive kathoeys as belonging to a third gender, including many kathoeys themselves, while others see them as either a kind of man or a kind of woman.
Most transgender women in Thai society refer to themselves as phuying (Thai: ผู้หญิง "women"), with a minority referring to themselves as phuying praphet song (a "second kind of woman") and only very few referring to themselves as kathoey.
Use of the term "kathoey" suggests that the person self-identifies as a type of male, in contrast to sao praphet song (which, like "trans woman", suggests a "female" (sao) gender identity), and in contrast to phet thi sam (which means "third gender").
The term phu ying praphet song, which can be translated as "second-type female", is also used to refer to kathoey.
In January 1997, the Rajabhat Institutes (the governing body of the colleges) announced it would formalize the ban, which would extend to all campuses at the start of the 1997 academic year.
The ban was quietly rescinded later in the year, following the replacement of the Minister of Education., satree lek), later portrayed in two Thai movies, won the Thai national championship.
Kathoeys currently face many social and legal impediments.Legal recognition of kathoeys and transgender individuals is non-existent in Thailand: even if trans people have had genital reassignment surgery, they are not allowed to change their legal sex. Problems can also arise in regards to access to amenities and gender allocation; for example, a kathoey and a transgender person who has undergone sexual reassignment surgery would still have to stay in an all-male prison.Kathoeys began to gain prominence in the cinema of Thailand during the late 1980s.The winner of the pageant receives a tiara, sash, car, grand price of 100,000 baht (US,000), equivalent to a yearly wage for a Thai factory worker.In 1993, Thailand's teacher training colleges implemented a semi-formal ban on allowing homosexual (which included kathoey) students enrolling in courses leading to qualification for positions in kindergartens and primary schools.