Outcry Spurs Katoi Restaurant to Change Name Days Before Reopening

August 24, 2017, 6:42 AM


Katoi, the popular Thai restaurant in Detroit's Corktown, which closed in February as a result of a suspicious fire and plans to re-open next Monday, has changed its name as a result of a controversy. It will now be called Takoi.

The move comes after a Metro Times article pointed out that members of the Thai, Southeast Asian, and LGBT communities found the name offensive and urged a change, reports restaurant critic Tom Perkins:

Three straight white people in Detroit in 2017 profiting and earning hip points while using a term for an oppressed, marginalized Thai transgender group is what many find to be an egregious case of cultural appropriation.

The term “kathoey” (a more common spelling than katoi) is also considered derogatory and offensive in most contexts in Thailand, though the transgender community there appears to be in the process of reclaiming it.

For our previous piece, we spoke with a trans rights activist in Thailand who identifies as a kathoey, people in Detroit’s southeast Asian community, transgender people, Thai-Americans, and LGBT people and advocates locally and around the nation. They say the use of the term in this context is not OK.

While there’s no perfect analogy, our sources likened it to a Thai person opening a gastropub in Bangkok and calling it "faggot" or "tranny."

After first the restaurant rejected requests to change the name, but this weekdid so, the publication reports. 

On Facebook, Detroit author and city "storyteller" Aaron Foley quips: "Someone open a feline-themed restaurant called Cat-Toy."

Read more:  Metro Times

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