LB, TB, LG, or Transgender

If you cruised around the Lesbians society in Cambodia, you would likely encounter constant mentioning of “LB”“LG”,“TB”. These trends sort of just caught on, and nobody knows for sure about the words’ origins, or their definite usages. As a part of this community from 2011 follow through to 2012, I will try my best to explain this.

The following paragraphs will each correspond to a term, its general usage, and its usage in Cambodian teenagers and young adult context.


LB, is mostly seen as the abbreviation of LESBIAN. According to Wikipedia, Lesbians are females who have romantic or sexual relationships with other females. One example of this is Ellen Degeneres and Portia De Rossi (they are married, and both are lesbians). In Cambodia, It is used to generally identify homosexual women.

Ellen Degenres and Portia de Rossi
Ellen Degenres and Portia de Rossi

TB stands for TOMBOY. Tomboy, by western definition is used to identify women who   exude the characteristics of a boy or the appearance of a boy. IT IS NOT A SEXUAL   PREFERENCE! A tomboy can be gay, or she can be straight. She can be attracted to a girl, a guy, or both. Whomever she’s attracted to, if she has the characteristic of a boy (such as the love to compete), or loves to dress like a boy, then she’s a tomboy.

However, when being applied to Cambodian context, it takes a distinctively unique turn. Since most of the very first Cambodian wave of homosexual females (happened in the last decade) were all tomboys. They all kept their hair short, wore boyish clothes, and generally referred to themselves as boys. It caused the misunderstanding that TOMBOY EQUALS LESBIAN. If you have your hair short, wear baggy jeans and a T-shirt on the street of Cambodia, brace yourself, you will be identified as “that lesbian girl”.

What about LG? LG has no general definition, meaning it’s our Cambodian original slang! While the term LG just caught on. My guess (and from the responses I have asked around) is that it represents the word “Lesbian Girls”. The origin and full term of the word is not so clear, though its usage is broad day-lightly clear. LG is used to identify LB’s girlfriends. Here’s the likely reason behind this term: LB is referred to as the “Lesbian Boy”, while  LG as the “Lesbian Girl” by some.  LG usually think of themselves as normal girls, who are in relationships with a boy when they are clearly in a relationship with an LB (who despite her manly appearance and characteristics, is still a girl). Most LG feel no differences when being in a relationship with a guy, or an LB. To them, they are all the same.

How about the not-so-popular term, “transgender”?  According to Wikipedia, a transgender is someone who is not satisfied with their sex. They feel like they are in the wrong body. They desire to be a boy, but is born to be a girl; or the other way around. Well. What about male transgenders in Cambodia? Now here is where it gets super tricky. The LG I mentioned earlier? Those that are LB’s girlfriends? They don’t typically identify themselves as a “lesbian”, though they are in a relationship with a girl, because to them, their LB lover is not a girl; the LG views the LB as a boy. Society, the LB’s girlfriend, and the LB herself view the LB as a guy.


Nick, one of the most iconic tomboy figure in Asia
Nick, one of the most iconic tomboy figure in Asia


Most of the lesbians here in Cambodia are tomboy, who wear boyish clothes and cut their hair short, who refers to themselves as boys and are super embarrassed when associating with girly activities. A friend of my brother’s (who wishes to remain anonymous) was an LB. She didn’t like going to girl’s restrooms, as a result of her great embarrassment. It’s as if she’s a guy who are embarrassed to step in a girl’s restroom. With all these characteristics, almost all of LB here in Cambodia are also transgender.


So to simplify it all, the terms LB, LG, and Transgender are used interchangeably in Cambodian society. The cause is likely due to the low level of awareness of our citizens on the gender issues.

The reality is that these terms are all mixed together. What do you think? Should we keep using them this way, or should we start raising awareness of the different gender spectrum’s and start using these terms by their true standards and definitions?

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