Chiangrai Times – Thailand’s first transgender provincial councilor has drawn fire on social-networking websites for wearing a woman’s uniform to work, but she refused Thursday to alter her dress code.
“I haven’t received any official complaints myself, so I will continue to wear a dress,” Yonlada Suanyos said.
Yonlada, 30, beat several male candidates May 27 to become a councilor for Nan province, 500 kilometres north of Bangkok, setting a precedent for Thailand’s provincial politics.
Nicknamed “Nok,” Yonlada had a sex-change operation at 16. Besides being a former transgender beauty queen, she holds a doctorate, owns a jewelry business in Bangkok, runs a satellite television station and is president of the Trans Female Association of Thailand.
For her first day as a councilor Monday, she showed up to work in the traditional, tight-fitting khaki uniform for female Thai civil servants.
Her choice of uniform sparked a flurry of criticism on local social-networking websites, such as Nan2Day and Panthip, for breaking the government dress code, which stipulates trousers for men and skirts for women, Yonlada acknowledged.
“I have to make men understand that they should respect me just as they respect other women,” Yonlada said in a telephone interview. “The label of mister is something I’ve been stuck with all my life.”
Under Thai law, men who undergo sex-change operations cannot change the gender on their national identity cards.