Thailand’s famous ladyboys have begun proudly swerving national service – turning up to recruitment events in colourful dresses clutching their sex-change paperwork. Footage shows transgender Thanyaluck Sittiwong, or ‘Minnie’, wearing a short white dress while being interviewed by an officer at the roll-call in Sa Kaeo province on April 2.
She was later given a certificate exempting her from the service.
A lottery-style draw was held for men, with anyone drawing red being roped into military training or those pulling black being exempted. Transgender residents, who were born male and still have ‘Mr’ on their passports by law but have undergone reassignment surgery to give the appearance of being a woman, turned up with their doctor’s notes showing they have received gender treatments.
The army drafts have become an annual tradition for the transgender community, locally known affectionately as ladyboys, to show off their femininity and re-affirm their identities as women, with females traditionally not working in the army in the Southeast Asian country. Recruiting officer Colonel Pramool Nammoonnoi said the draft would continue until April 9 but all transgenders would be excused.
“Transgender men want to be women and don’t want to be in the army, so it’s fair to let them avoid it,” Nammoonnoi said about transgender recruitment. “We would not force them, but they must show a certificate from a doctor. Everybody is happy with the situation.”
“This year has seen lots of young men who want to join and protect the country.”
Military national service drafts will take place around the country from April 1 to 20, except during Chakri Memorial Day on April 6 and the Songkran Festival from April 13 to 15.
The military draft in Thailand is held every early April, and all Thai males aged 21 who have not undergone reserve training are required to participate. O
On the day of the draftee selection, those who are summoned for the draft are required to report to their respective selection centers at 7AM. During roll call, eligible draftees have the option to volunteer to serve for a shorter duration and to select their preferred service branch and reporting date, or they can choose to participate in the lottery.
The lottery takes place after the enlisting volunteers are dismissed, with different required quotas in each center.
Those who draw a black card are exempted from military service and are issued a letter of exemption. On the other hand, those who draw a red card are mandated to start serving from the induction date specified on the card. The length of military service varies based on a person’s educational background and whether they volunteer to enlist.
University students can avoid national service by applying for a deferment of conscription until they receive their diploma or until they reach 26 years of age.
Thailand has a thriving transgender population, which is accepted into society without discrimination, and integrates successfully and peacefully without the conflicts and attempts to change social norms that have beset the groups in western countries.
Produced in association with ViralPress