Chula reviews student’s right to wear female clothes

national January 18, 2019 03:00

By KORNRAWEE PANYASUPPAKUN
THE NATION

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THAILAND’S highest-ranked university on Wednesday confirmed that its board of directors had given conditional approval for a transgender student to wear female uniform.



The board plans to summon officials from its Faculty of Education and the student to hear each side’s explanation and reasons so the case can be concluded within 30 days.

Chulalongkorn University’s vice president for student and alumni affairs, Assis’t Professor Chaiyaporn Puprasert, said the institution had in the past allowed students attending their graduation ceremony to wear clothes that suited their gender identity and many faculties already allowed students to wear uniforms according to their sexual orientation. 

“The Faculty of Education [having previously imposed a ban] might in future think of the faculty graduates’ role as teachers who are role models for other youths,” he added.

A day earlier, political and rights activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, who also studies at the university, had posted on his Facebook page that he was celebrating a “small victory” regarding a university order that conditionally allowed a transgender student in the Faculty of Education to wear a female uniform. The board, which has yet to make a final ruling, is also reported to have taken into account the previous ban imposed by the same faculty. 

“Under the jurisdiction of the dean of Chulalongkorn University, [the school] has temporarily withheld the order made by the executive committee of the Faculty of Education. The student, therefore, can dress according to her [gender identity] until the committee gives a different order,” the order read.

Netiwit praised the student who fought the faculty order for having the courage to file the complaint, as well as the “many Chula students” who “shared” her plight on social media. 

He also thanked rights activists and others who signed the Change.org petition demanding that the faculty’s order be reversed. It was both the courage of the student and the public outcry over the decision that had resulted in the board’s reconsideration of the issue, he suggested.

As of Wednesday, about 100 supporters had signed the petition calling for Chulalongkorn university’s Faculty of Education to allow students to dress according to their identity. 

Netiwit also called on the Faculty to explain a “discriminatory” comment made by a faculty lecturer.

Gender activist Nada Chaiyajit, speaking on behalf of the student in question, said in a Facebook post that a lecturer had told the student: “You should be grateful that you are not sent to hospital to be cured or to be electrocuted like in the past. You should be grateful that the Faculty of Education allowed you to study here instead of sending you to an asylum.”

The activist quoted the student as claiming that her teacher would not allow her to attend class dressed in a female uniform and if she insisted on doing so, the teacher would dismiss the class.

Chulalongkorn University, along with Chiang Mai University, were last year praised by netizens for allowing students to dress for their graduation ceremonies according to their gender identities. 

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