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Thailand: Trans woman becomes the first to win elections to public office

Posted on May 30, 2012 by

A trans woman has won a historic seat in local elections in Thailand, thereby becoming the first openly transgender person to hold public office in the country.

Yonlada Suanyos, a PhD candidate who also runs a satellite television station, in addition to running her own jewellery business, has defeated two other male candidates to become a councillor in the Nan province of northern Thailand.

Ms Suanyos was also a member of transgender pop group called Venus Flytrap, where she was known as Posh Venus.

The first trans person to enter politics in Thailand, the 30-year-old won her seat by winning 150 votes more than the incumbent, with a total of 3,808 votes, according to local media.

In a public statement, Ms Suanyos, who had her gender reassignment surgery when she was 16, said that her position on the Provincial Administration Organisation (PAO) Council will help her address problems around women’s rights, especially trans-women’s rights. She has also vowed to take gay rights to the Parliament.

Thailand is generally accepting of trans women, known locally as ‘kathoey’ (related to ‘kothis’ in India). Though well represented in the world of entertainment, they do not have a larger visibility in the country.

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