Thailand's toilets for transvestites

It came to light last week that the Kampang School in Northeastern Thailand has introduced “transvestite toilets” for male students who choose to dress as females. The story has been picked up by several major news agencies, including AP and the Guardian.

There are reportedly 200 cross-dressing male students at the Kampang School, many of whom are overjoyed with the new toilets. I'm split as to whether I like this idea.

My initial thought was that such a move is positive. People shouldn't have to put off going to the bathroom for fear of ridicule or being groped. I have often wondered which toilet I would choose to use if I were a ladyboy. Would I go into the ladies' or the gents'?

It's difficult for an outsider to really comprehend because there is some conflict between whether ladyboys should be viewed as women or a third sex. With my limited experience of talking to people who have undergone partial or full sex changes, I don't see any unity in this matter.

However, in the case of students, most, if not all, of whom have not undergone even a partial sex change, it's difficult to categorise them as women, even if that's what they believe themselves to be. A cross-dresser is not necessarily someone who wants to switch sexes. In such cases, you could argue that there should be a separate toilet for all lifestyle choices.

Because the subject matter is so blurred, it's difficult to take a stand either way. By having an additional toilet, you effectively create a divide between men, women and Option C, thus socially excluding those men with gender issues who want nothing more than to be accepted as women.

Where do you draw the line?

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8 thoughts on “Thailand's toilets for transvestites

  1. I think gender is a fluid concept with a very long continuum. Some guys who dress as women – in drag – and then go back to a male identity after the "show" are very different than those who actually believe themselves to be women trapped in a male body. (Same in reverse of course.. for women who are transgendered.)

    In general, I agree with you. No need for a third sex designation. What about intersexed people?

  2. Personally, I don't care if the transgendered people share the girls room. You look like a girl and you identify yourself with one, come on down and use the girls room.

    I'm sure somewhere in there some people still can't get comfortable with having genetic males share the restrooms with genetic females, doesn't matter if such males identify themselves as females. Hence, it's for THEIR sake that the transgendered bathroom is set up.

    On the bright side, at least the ladyboyds don't have to uncomfortably share the bathrooms with the guys anymore.

  3. I don't know about Thailand, but in Indonesia we face a very real problem not with discrimination in toilets but with discrimination in healthcare. Waria (the Indonesian equivalent of katoey) are processed according to their ID cards (male) into the men's wards in clinics and hospitals. When you live as a woman, that's no pleasure. So they avoid health care entirely. Result: extraordinarily high levels of untreated STI and HIV infection and much else.

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