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Thai trans activists demand new laws to guarantee their rights

Emma Powys Maurice July 29, 2019

Thai trans advocacy groups proposing a new bill to protect their rights (The Nation)

Two transgender rights groups in Thailand have joined forces to secure legal rights for people who undergo gender confirmation surgery.

A campaign led by The Transsexual Association of Thailand and The Life Inspired for Transsexuals Foundation is proposing a new law that recognises trans people as the correct gender after surgery.

The proposed law would give trans people the right to change their title to their correct gender, and also covers marriage rights, military conscription and being housed according to their gender in prison facilities.

“Let the world see that Thailand is among the leaders when it comes to the rights and freedom for LGBTQI people,” said Yollada Suannok, president of the Transsexual Association of Thailand.

Yollada is a trans woman who under Thai law is still referred to as “Mr.”

LIFT transgender advocacy group
Members of The Life Inspired for Transsexuals Foundation (LIFT) holding ID cards (Facebook)

The groups submitted a proposal to the parliament speaker on Thursday (July 25) and hope to collect at least 10,000 signatures in support of the law.

They are backed by the celebrated Thai transgender singer and LGBT+ icon, Jern Jern Boonsoongnern.

Trans people still face many obstacles in Thailand

Although Thailand is one of the most progressive countries in Asia when it comes to LGBT+ rights, activists say they still have a way to go.

According the Bangkok Post, transgender people in Thailand face a “common theme of discrimination and prejudice — found both at a personal and legal level.”

Transgender beauty pageants are commonly hosted in cities, but in rural areas “society is somewhat against the idea” of transgender people gaining legal rights.

Jazell Barbie Royale (C) of the US, the Miss International Queen 2019 receives a kiss from finalists Kanwara Kaewjin (L) of Thailand and Yaya (R) of China
Jazell Barbie Royale (C) of the US, the Miss International Queen 2019 receives a kiss from finalists Kanwara Kaewjin (L) of Thailand and Yaya (R) of China during the transgender beauty pageant in Pattaya on March 8, 2019. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

Apparently, some fear criminals would take advantage of the law to change themselves and avoid paying for their crimes.

But it appears attitudes are slowly changing, with Thailand electing its first transgender MP, Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, earlier this year.

The new law in support of transgender rights was welcomed by Tankhun Jitt-itsara, a member of the House speaker’s staff, who said it would affect the lives of many transsexuals who have long been seeking legal rights to suit their new gender.

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