These sentiments undercut the idealized notion of Thailand as a trans paradise. The implication of the importance of appearances and proper principles in the development of transgender bathroom facilities undermines the alleged transgender and transsexual tolerance of Thailand. If Thailand truly existed as a trans paradise, then schools and other institutions would recognize a transgender person’s identity as the gender they claim instead of relegating them to separate, transgender restrooms that ignore their agency in identifying as women.
One of the underlying proponents of trans discrimination in Thailand is the belief that one is born transgender as a retribution for sexual transgressions in a past life. This way of thinking enables people to believe that transgender individuals deserve the intolerance they experience. It perpetuates the idea that transgender individuals deserve the low social status they occupy, and it frees people from feeling empathy and compassion. In Thailand, transgender individuals are stereotyped, and their social mobility is limited by low-paying positions. As a result, many transgender individuals turn to prostitution to survive, and the world of sex work exposes them to danger and further discrimination.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission lists more injusticies against transgender individuals in Thailand:
“In 1997, the Rajabhat Institute—a nationwide group of teacher’s colleges—announced that “sexual deviants” would not be enrolled. Although the plan was defeated after public outrage, more subtle forms of discrimination continue in various educational institutions.
In 1999, the Government Public Relations Department issued a memo asking television channels to ban appearances by “sexual deviants.”
During 2005-6, transgender people who showed up for the compulsory military draft had ‘psychosis’ written on their military papers as a reason for their discharge. Prospective employees are legally required to see these papers, and as a consequence many transgender people have been denied job interviews.”
Pakdeesiam, Saksit. Thai for Gay Tourists. Bangkok: Paiboon, 2001.
Sereemongkonpol, Pornchai, and Susan Aldous. Ladyboys: The Secret World of Thailand’s Third Gender. Bangkok: Maverick House, 2008.
Rojanaphruk, Pravit. “‘Transgender’ Activist Describes Discrimination'” Nation Multimedia. October 17, 2010. Accessed November 07, 2010. http://www.nationmultimedia.com/home/2010/10/17/national/Transgender-activist-describes-discrimination-30140247.html.
Sanders, Douglas. “Transgender Rights.” International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. December 14, 2009. Accessed November 10, 2010. http://ilga.org/ilga/en/article/mdO32ZR1AY.