The Nation





The TV documentary series "Kon Kon Kon" once featured the Sister's Hand Project, through which the TransFemale Association of Thailand offered free sex-change operations. Most people will remember Sirilada -

the only inter-sex person who participated - eventually being allowed by the government to call herself Miss rather than Mister.

It gladdened LGBT hearts, but if we take a deeper look we also see how dreadful the Thai government is.

Gender's ambiguity becomes a problem for the government when it's restricted to just two choices. Inter-sex children can't make the decision, and their parents usually decide early whether they're going to be a boy or girl.

In Sirilada's case, her parents wrote "male" on her birth certificate. I don't know why but I assume, based on feminist theory, that the motivating factor was mainstream society's default prejudice toward men.

Right from birth, being inter-sex means being in the clutch of powerful invisible hands - the binary sexual system, enforced by the government. Thus there are only two genders. You cannot be anything else. There is no "other", nothing in between. The genitals you were born with dictate your gender, for life, and if the baby's genitalia are ambiguous about its gender, a choice must be made.

When Sirilada reached adolescence, oestrogen outpaced testosterone, yet she remained "assigned" a male. Much suffering ensued, she said, wreaking havoc with her sexual ambiguity even as the hormones battled inside her. Luckily she was chosen for the Sister's Hand Project and her gender was scientifically established. Soon after she received permission to use a woman's title.

The government's role in this affair remains dreadful nonetheless. Of course it goes back to the choice between male and female.

I don't disagree with Sirilada's decision at all - it's entirely her right. But I am dismayed that it came down to the power of science to prove her gender, not Sirilada's personal authority or the support of the National Human Rights Committee.

The government surrendered only to scientific fact - and yet science itself is guilty of sexual prejudice.

Science offers no space for "other" genders either, and continues to study sexuality in the framework of the two-gender system. Science looks for answers that serve this "ideal". That's why scientists will never understand other genders.

So how can the government understand LGBT people if it relies on science for the absolute truth?

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