[I learnt this lesson in Amsterdam – they tolerate foreigners, but they may never accept them. Anyway, this story was interesting because it’s nice to know that these kids are going to have a slightly easier time, and because that level of validation of gender identity is pretty damn cool.]
BBC: Thai school offers transsexual toilet
With its spacious, tree-lined grounds and slightly threadbare classrooms, there is nothing obviously unusual about the Kampang Secondary School.
It is situated in Thailand’s impoverished north-east, and most of the pupils are the children of farmers.
But there is something else about them too. Between the girls’ toilet and the boys’, there is one signposted with a half-man, half-woman figure in blue and red.
The transgender boys in Kampang tend to stick together as a group, practising their somewhat exaggerated feminine mannerisms together and generally camping it up.
They still have to wear male uniforms, make-up is not allowed (although some manage to sneak in a touch of lipstick and mascara), and of course sex-change surgery is out of the question at this age – the youngest self-declared transsexual is 12.
But they appear to be treated perfectly normally by other pupils and teachers alike.
I asked the headmaster whether they were not too young to be making decisions about their gender.
A transsexual pupil at Kampang Secondary School, north-east Thailand The pupils have to wear boys’ uniforms, but use feminine accessories He said that, in his 35 years of working in the Thai education system, he had come across
many boys like this, and they never changed. Many go on as adults to have sex-change surgery, while others will live as gay men, he said.
The Kampang school’s initiative, far from stirring up controversy, has instead prompted a discussion in other schools over whether they should be providing the same facilities.
Tolerance, said Suttirat, is not the same thing as acceptance.