Thailande Tanwarin
Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, MP for the Future Forward Party, poses before the parliamentary vote of the new Thai Prime Minister in Bangkok (Credit: Lillian Suwanrumpha / AFP)

TH – As Thai women struggle to establish a foothold in the politics of a nation that ranks among the worst in the world for sex parity in government leadership, news outlets in the West are cheering on the progressiveness of men attaining political positions while wearing culturally feminine attire and the label “women” as their identity.

“Earrings, neat make-up, Tanwarin, one of Thailand’s first two transsexual deputies, walks through the alleys of the Parliament dressed as a woman. A revolution in the kingdom,” LePetitJournal.com drools enthusiastically in an article announcing the entry of four transgender politicians – three of whom have not “been operated on” – into Parliament.

The United Nations latest ranking of Women in Politics found Thailand at place 181 of 192 nations, among the worst. While Thailand’s population is 51 percent female, World Bank data shows that women currently comprise just five percent of seats in the nation’s Parliament. Yingluck Shinawatra, the first and only female prime minister of Thailand, was unseated in a political coup in 2014. She absconded the country as a fugitive in 2017, and secured citizenship in Serbia days ago.

On the other hand, individuals who do not identify with their biological sex are now statistically over-represented in the parliament of Thailand. While 0.3 percent of people in Thailand identify as transgender, transgender individuals hold 0.53 percent of seats in Thailand’s Parliament, or nearly 1.8 times their portion of the general Thai population.

Although several non-governmental organizations report that individuals who identify as transgender frequently face job discrimination, and are too often found in menial jobs, the sex trade and suffering homelessness, defending transgender-identified individuals’ ability to more widely experience the universal human rights to earn a living and secure adequate housing is not the most pressing concern for new transgender entrants into parliament. Instead, Tanwarin Sukkhapisit says the primary aim is to enable Thai residents to replace sex with an individually determined gender identity on official legal documents, and “improve education in schools” by integrating the concept of gender diversity into academic textbooks.

Thus, safeguarding transgender individuals’ access to universal human rights is on the backburner or not on the agenda at all for transgender members of Parliament. The primary goal of transgender members of Parliament is to eliminate the ability of the word “woman” to be legally defined, and by this, reduce what it means to be a woman down to a vague feeling or performance. With this legal erasure of women will end the ability to accurately calculate sex-based statistics that allow women, and national and international governmental and organizational bodies to track and ensure women’s socioeconomic progress, and the ability of healthcare organizations to recognize and tend to women’s and girls’ sex-specific care needs.

As far as gender identity advocates are concerned, women have never existed – except perhaps as “[e]arrings, neat make-up” – an identity a man can write out of objective reality by the declaration of his feelings and the stroke of his pen.

Read more on this story

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