Thammasat University officially announced this week that it will now allow students to dress according to their chosen gender, effective on June 9.
This includes attending classes, taking examinations, internship, graduation ceremonies, as well as taking university ID photos. Criticism or insult towards the new dress code will be considered a violation.
The announcement was made through the Thammasat University Student Union page on Facebook, with a photo of the document signed by Assoc. Prof. Gasinee Withoonchart, rector and member of Thammasat University Council.
Thammasat University became the second university in Thailand to amend its uniform regulations following Chulalongkorn University’s announcement back in November 2019.
“It is necessary and appropriate to carry out these new guidelines for students and have dress codes for those whose gender identity and sexual orientation do not match the sex they were assigned to at birth,” said the post.
“This is to prevent any discrimination against a students’ sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as to protect them from being bullied, abused, and harassed.” the letter continued, “It is also to protect their human dignity and right to freedom of expression through their speech, posture, style, and body type — regardless of anyone’s gender identity and sexual orientation and in accordance to the 2017 Yogyakarta Principles, which documents human rights in the areas of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
“It’s good to know that now we can wear what we want without being worried that some teachers might discriminate against us. Like it feels safer now that they made it official.” said Parkers, a transgender student at Thammasat University.
“I think it’s important to make schools/study spaces the safe places for students because if one doesn’t feel safe to be there, why would they feel safe in learning/studying anything at all? It benefits both academically and mentally for the students,” he told Thai Enquirer.
“At least for me, if I were able to wear what I wanted back in school, I would be a lot happier to go to school every day and probably enjoy it a lot more.”
The details of the new university regulations are translated below:
- This announcement is called the “Thammasat University announcement regarding student practices and dressing of students whose gender identity or sexual orientation does not match their assigned gender at birth, 2020″
- This announcement shall come into effect from the day following the announcement.
- University staff should treat students whose gender identity or sexual orientation does not match with their assigned gender at birth with regards to human dignity, rights, liberty and gender equality. Any acts of bullying, insulting, abusing, oppressing these students will be considered a disciplinary offence.
- Students with gender identities or sexual orientation that do not match the gender of origin have the right to dress and use photos of themselves that are gender-inclusive to their identity. This extends from uniforms at the ceremony, uniform at the faculty when attending classes, taking exams, going on internships, or when contacting various departments in Thammasat University. Students should still dress and style themselves in an orderly and appropriate manner according to Thammasat University regulations on the dress code of students.
- Graduates from PhD, Masters and Bachelors programs, certificates, and diplomas have the right to dress and send pictures according to their identity with the correct academic attire and gowns when attending commencement ceremonies.
- No department within the university are allowed to issue announcements, regulations, or stipulate any practices related to the student’s dress code that is unfair or discriminatory against students whose gender identity or sexual orientation does not match their assigned gender at birth.
- The vice president responsible for student affairs has the power to issue additional guidelines to comply with this announcement — to the extent that it is not contrary to or inconsistent with this announcement.
“I feel like this whole uniform rule in Thai schools is just a way to tell us students that we don’t have any powers. Like the uniform is just there to tell us what to wear. It’s a way to control students from young ages and make them believe that because they are younger and are the students, they don’t have voices in the society and adults don’t care enough to listen to them.” said Parkers.
“Adults always either think “you are too young to know” or “if you really are one you should know it a long time ago” and that’s horrible. It’s like they treat gender and sexuality as another choice of lifestyles and that’s incorrect. Nobody can choose their gender and sexuality. But when they think it’s a choice, they thought they could also control it just like how they always control our haircuts and all that.”
Thailand had no previous concrete law containing language mentioning about LGBTQ people until the March 2015 Gender Equality Act B.E. 2558. Under the 2015 Act, any discrimination against a male, female, or person who has a sexual expression different from that person’s original sex is punishable by up to six months in prison and a fine of up to 20,000 baht.
Despite the progress, however, Thailand still has a long way to go in recognizing and including members of the LGBTQ community, according to critics.
“I realize many Thai academic people don’t care about gender and sexuality at all. I don’t know why. They probably don’t think it’s as important as the poverty problem or other “political” problems. They don’t realize that LGBTQ+ rights are also part of Human Rights,” he said. “But at least there are changes so maybe there’s hope somewhere?”