Thai transgender wins political seat, probably a first for the ’3rd gender’
Yollada Suanyot calls herself a woman by choice and instinct, but says her election as the country’s first transsexual member of a Provincial Administration Organisation has little to do with her outer appearance.
On Sunday, the former beauty queen born as Krirkkong Suanyos scored a huge victory for the underdog when she defeated the former mayor of Nan in a tight race for a PAO seat in Nan province.
Ms Yollada garnered 3,808 votes, narrowly beating former mayor Phawat Sattayawong, who came second with 3,659 votes in Constituency 1 of tambon Nai Wiang in Muang district.
The 28-year-old Ms Yollada, who goes by the nickname Nok, said her PAO victory was indicative of wider public acceptance of the third gender.However, she insisted voters looked beyond her female exterior and trusted her to work as hard as anyone else for the PAO after considering her professional and educational credentials.
Ms Yollada said she turned the generally negative perception of transsexuals to her electoral advantage.
Her background as a former transvestite beauty queen and her activism for recognition of the third gender boosted her candidacy by grabbing voters’ attention.
As a PAO candidate, Ms Yollada has advocated a policy of preparing Nan for integration into the Asean Economic Community in 2015.
She vowed to monitor the budget spending of the PAO’s executive branch, which is dominated by Pheu Thai.
As a non-party PAO member, she said she will carry out her duties without bias. Ms Yollada maintained she has no aspirations to be a national politician.
She said victory in the election completed only half the struggle.
Ms Yollada is a native of Nan’s Muang district. She contested the election as an independent candidate using her birth name of Krirkkong.
She graduated with a science degree from Thammasat University when she was 21 and later obtained a master’s degree in political science.
She is currently studying for a PhD in social sciences at Ramkhamhaeng University.
After graduating from Thammasat she competed in the Miss Alcaza transvestite beauty contest created by the Pattaya-based Alcaza cabaret venue.
After she was crowned Miss Alcaza 2007, her rise to fame in her home province was meteoric.
Her family’s strong involvement in social welfare causes in Nan gave her an early foothold in engaging in public service.
She helped her mother, the chairwoman of Nan’s Lions Club of community volunteers, raise funds and work with authorities for charitable events.
While her title as former Miss Alcaza raised her profile, it was her unrelenting campaign for legal recognition of the third gender which gained her widespread admiration.
Ms Yollada co-founded an association of cross-gender women boasting more than 2,500 members.
Her candidacy name of Krirkkong serves as a glaring example of the discrimination faced by the transsexual community.
The law requires her to use her birth name at the polls, with the prefix nai, which designates that she is male.
Many have accepted transsexuality, so “why can’t the law?” she said.
“No woman wants to be addressed as ‘nai’. I’m one of those women,” Ms Yollada said, referring to herself by the formal female pronoun of di chan.
But until the law changes, she has to live with her “mistaken” gender identity.
“We couldn’t choose our birth and we can’t blame anyone for that.
“We shouldn’t be so despondent,” she said.
Still, Ms Yollada is disappointed with the law for failing to respect a person’s basic rights. Thailand lags behind 60 other nations which allow transgendered people to re-assign their gender prefix. “For seven years, friends and some other former Miss Alcaza queens have fought for this right, but we haven’t succeeded yet,” she said.
Source: Bangkok Post