Transvestite grads get the nod
Thammasat says five can wear female attire to graduation ceremonyReports of a male transvestite who has been given permission to dress as a female at his graduation ceremony have given hope to other male graduates with "women's hearts".
Five male transvestite graduates from Thammasat University (TU) would be allowed to dress as women when they attend the royally-sponsored ceremony at the end of this month. Among them, Baramee "Denjan" Phanich, 23, has been under the media spotlight.
"I've dressed in a female student uniform since I was in my first year at university. I cannot dress as a man at all, and if I had to dress as a male graduate, I would not attend the ceremony," said Denjan, adding that he planned to be ordained as a monk to show his gratitude to his parents soon.
The paper said the university consulted with the Royal Household Bureau about the wishes of the five students, who were born male, to dress in female clothing for the ceremony, and the bureau replied that it was the university's decision.
Thai Rath said the university agreed to allow the five to wear female uniforms because they have studied as female students, and the university felt society was now accepting of homosexuality and transgender issues, so it would be cruel to force them to wear male uniforms at the ceremony.
The commencement will be held on August 30. A full dress rehearsal will take place on August 25.
Denjan said it had been his strong desire to dress as a woman at graduation since he was a freshman. For that reason, he decided to submit a request to dress as a female graduate to the university, and also handed in a medical certificate showing he has gender identity disorder and recommending ways to help with the disorder, including allowing him to dress as a woman throughout his life.
Chiang Mai University president Pongsak Angkasith said it would hold a discussion with its council, deans and students' representatives on the issue to come up with regulations agreed by all stakeholders at the university.
"We'll have to listen to the reasons from every part of the university and consider their appropriateness before making a decision and issuing the regulations," he said, adding that no male graduate at his university had submitted such a request.
Associate Professor Dr Piniti Ratananukul, deputy secretary-general of the Office of the Higher Education Commission, said TU could allow male graduates with "women's hearts" to dress as female students for the graduation ceremony provided it is in line with the university's regulations.
Denjan said he had consulted Yollada Krerkkong Suanyot, a transgender beauty queen who is president of the Trans Female Association of Thailand and also a member of the Nan Provincial Administrative Organisation, about the request procedure.
Yollada said he was allowed to dress as a woman at his graduation ceremony in 2007 after he took a master's degree from Ramkhamhaeng University. He was the first in the association to receive such permission, and had subsequently given advice to other transvestites on the issue.
"I want relevant agencies to provide laws that accord with who we are, to put an end to lots of problems we face in everyday life, because our genders and looks are different from our legal genders," he said.
Thansita Wisetsuwan, a transvestite graduate from TU, said he was among the first eight people at the university allowed to dress as women at a graduation ceremony. Apart from TU, Naresuan and Srinakharinwirot Universities also allowed their graduates to do so for the 2010 academic year.
However, Piniti said he did not want students of other universities to demand this as a right, as the dress code has to be in line with each university's rules.
"I do not wish to see students of any other university demanding such rights, because the regulations on this matter differ from institute to institute. I personally believe that students' uniforms are holy and special and one should take appropriateness into consideration," he said. Those who are granted the right should dress properly, he added.