Transgenders pleased with dress choice.
LGBT pay appropriate respect to king.
6 Nov 2016 at 08:40
NEWSPAPER SECTION: NEWS
WRITER: CHAIYOT YONGCHAROENCHAI
Transgender, gays and lesbians have welcomed the opportunity to pay tribute to His Majesty the King in respectful clothing of their choice.
In the week since the public was allowed into Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall at the Grand Palace to pay their respects in front of the King's urn, the appropriateness of what to wear has become a hot topic of conversation.
The Bureau of the Royal Household specifically determined the appropriate dress code for females and males, but offered no guidelines for the LGBT community.
On social media, questions were raised in order to clarify the dress code for people of diverse sexual orientations, especially among transgender people.
As the bureau is viewed as a conservative institution, many transgender people worried they would not be able enter dressed to match their identity. Some expressed concern they may have to put on an outfit to fit their birth gender.
Jetsada Taesombat, the coordinator for the Thai Transgender Alliance, said transgender people would have happily conformed with whatever rules were laid down.
"Luckily we didn't have to worry as transgenders who dressed in appropriate outfits that matched their gender identity were not stopped from entering the grand palace," Ms Jetsada said.
A transgender posted on her Facebook page on Oct 27, two days before the throne hall opened, full details on the dress code for transgender people after checking with the government's Public Relations Department.
The section in charge of the Royal Ceremony told her that all transgenders are allowed to enter the throne hall in appropriate attire that matches their physical appearance.
As soon as the information was shared online, the message went viral among the LGBT community.
First Army deputy commander Maj Gen Pongsawat Phanjit, who is in charge of maintaining order around the Grand Palace, said transgenders who want to pay respect to the King can dress based on their apparent gender (for example, a man whose look is as a woman can dress as woman). He said authorities were flexible so long as dressing was "not inappropriate" and "not contrary to the culture".
Ms Jetsada said it may help broaden recognition of the LGBT community, especially transgender people. "Even though it may not lead to any great change, what has happened can set a very good example in our society."
This is not the first time that the issue of appropriate dress codes for transgenders has been raised. For many years, transgender people, especially university students, have been discriminated against when it comes to events like graduation ceremonies.
Ms Jetsada said she had received many complaints and queries over the past five years.
"Some universities require all transgenders, even the ones that already have breast implants, to wear a student uniform that matches their birth gender during examination and graduation ceremonies.
"Many of them were asked to wear long trousers, a white shirt, suit, and neck tie during the graduation ceremony. Some of them who have long hair were even asked to hide their long hair."
With the previous complaints to the TTA in mind, Jetsada and her team submitted a letter to the bureau to clarify the issue as many universities invited members of the royal family to give out diplomas to graduates.
"It turned out that the BRH is quite open about the dress code for transgender people," she said. "They replied that they have no problem with the way that transgender students want to dress as long as it is polite and appropriate." Ms Jetsada said the real problem is the council of each university.
"Some universities are a lot more conservative than the bureau when it's come to sexual diversity. Many of them still recognise the world as having on two genders, which are female and male. Those who are different will have to fall into the condition of their birth gender."
She added, "I believe the BRH is doing the right thing to recognise us as the way we are. I hope other institutes will follow this and finally become more open about gender issues."