CHIANGRAI TIMES – Yollada “Nok” Suanyot among the more unique challenges for campaign strategists. After all, the public is seldom presented with a male-born political candidate who was famously arrested as a teen for using a fake ID to enter — and win — women’s beauty pageants.
Via May 27 provincial elections, Yollada could become the highest-ranking transgender politician in Thailand’s history. If victorious, a potential but unlikely scenario, she will have taken a most unusual route to political office: rebellious teenage pageant queen to pop singer to rights advocate and entrepreneur.
Yollada, now 28, is campaigning in her home province of Nan, a remote region on the Thai-Laos border. She has no party’s backing. She competes independently against a candidate from Thailand’s well-funded ruling party, Pheu Thai, for a top position commanding provincial finances.
She is perhaps best known as a cover model and former member of Venus Flytrap, a Spice Girls-esque troupe of fellow male-to-female transgender Thais. (Her stage name was Posh Venus.)
More recently, Yollada has attracted attention by forming a rights group — the TransFemale Association of Thailand — and openly calling for state-funded sex changes. She is public about her desire to raise children.
Yollada’s campaign platform is standard political fare: promises of a tourism drive, improved educational services for youth, support service for the elderly and a 24-hour emergency help line. The race, however, will be watched closely by transgender Thais wondering whether political power can be achieved by one of their own. Read More…