Thai transgender women proudly exempt themselves from national military service

Thousands of transgender women proudly exempted themselves from military service in Thailand today (April 2). The ladies were among groups of males who have turned 21-years-old and are expected to enlist in the army for a gruelling two-year stint. Recruits are then selected randomly at the military call-up events. Trans women across the country – who still have male birth certificates – are legally required to attend the events. However, they then have to show medical certificates proving their new gender, which excuses them from service as trans women are not allowed in the Thai army. Glamorous beauty queen Narisara Aonwang, 23, arrived at the facility in Phitsanulok province with documents proving that she had undergone a sex change. Aside from her beauty titles and awards she also brought her certificate indicating that she was still studying a degree in Education at the Sukhothai College. She said: ‘I am not afraid of doing national service but the Thai army still discriminates against women like me. Straight women are allowed to enroll in military service. ‘I think we should have the same rights as other straight women. If they finally allow us to draft I will be the first one who applies for it.’ Narisara had been showing up at the annual event for three years now to prove her gender as she is expected to do this until she turns 26-years-old or the maximum age allowed for required enlistment. The events will be held around the country until April 9. In Phitsanulok province on the first day 284 youngsters came forward but only 67 were successfully drafted into the army. Parents whose children were exempted cheered outside the centre. Around eight percent of the country’s population are believed to be in the LGBTQ demographic but Thai laws still imposes some restrictions on their rights. Aside from not being able to join the army they don’t receive as the same marriage benefits as straight couples although they are allowed to marry. Thailand’s military includes the Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force and has around 300,000 state employees. The country’s government was also formed by the military following a coup in 2014 and the prime minister is career soldier General Prayut Chan-o-cha. Thai males have the option to study the military for three years in secondary school or attend the national service recruitment, where draws are made to choose who is selected. College and university graduates can also have shorter one-year stints in the military if they volunteer. Some young men also volunteer for the national service because they want to join the army.