Thai Transgenders Struggling Against Prejudice and Discrimination
The transgender (TG) community in Thailand face a multi-faceted challenge. Societal prejudice against the "third gender" leaves them vulnerable; of violence, street harassment, employment discrimination, lack of identity, and ostracized from the mainstream flow of life.
Coffee, kretek, accompanied by the humidity, my conversation with Kath and Note from the Thai Transgender Alliance left me somewhat dazed from the assortment of narrow mindedness of the public and layered stigma that transgenders face in Thai society. Khartini, an old friend, ex-colleague and presently a representative of Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers, echoed similar mentality in Malaysia though not as many cases of prejudice compared to Thailand.
Some feel that society are quick to judge and condemn, and yet with little regard view the contradiction of the Thai Buddhists mentality.
Securing jobs, a trying endeavor for a TG, as people have the tendency to accuse the community of leading a cursed life coupled with Karma, the "sins" of the past, wheeling itself repeatedly upon the TG. Others find TG as marginalized oddity, avoiding them when possible but otherwise giving sympathetic outlooks.
I see no empathy from society. There seems to be only discrimination, and judgmental reactions against TG.
TG find themselves going through the stigma associated when visiting the government hospitals but with the private ones, nurses and doctors don't appear to care - the drawback being in the form of paying the high cost of health care that's associated with private hospitals.
In universities, TG are told to wear male uniforms; street violence is common against TG sex workers. Not an easy feat to lodge police reports, as policemen are usually quick to judge a TG even before the documents have been filed.
Advocacy is slow moving but more and more TG are aware of the need to sustain their movement and generate awareness. TG activists are common, often standing side by side with the LGBT-based NGOs towards human rights protection and education. More dialogues are needed with pressure groups and government agencies, and most importantly the political will to recognize the TG community and their right to an identity.
The irrational hostility, something that "normal people" take delight, to shower those seen as less perfect or vastly different from the norm. Its this sickness, a societal decay of reason, devoid of compassion. Such rot makes us more inhuman, as we justify our acts of marginalizing the TG community, and not realizing that we are brutally ignorant.
In the end, if nothing is done to stop the epidemic of prejudice, then we will find that our world is merely a wasteland of hate and bankrupted of acceptance.