Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Separate toilet for transsexual students

A school in Thailand has established a separate toilet facility for transsexual students.

According to a BBC News story, "Between the girls' toilet and the boys', there is one signposted with a half-man, half-woman figure in blue and red.

"This is the transsexual toilet, and outside, in front of the mirrors, some decidedly girly-looking teenage boys preen their hair and apply face cream.

"The headteacher, Sitisak Sumontha, estimates that in any year between 10% and 20% of his boys consider themselves to be transgender - boys who would rather be girls.

"'They used to be teased every time they used the boys' toilets,' he said, 'so they started using the girls' toilets instead. But that made the girls feel uncomfortable. It made these boys unhappy, and started to affect their work.' . . .

"I asked the headmaster whether they were not too young to be making decisions about their gender.

"He said that, in his 35 years of working in the Thai education system, he had come across many boys like this, and they never changed. Many go on as adults to have sex-change surgery, while others will live as gay men, he said. . . .

A ratio of 10% to 20% of boys calling themselves transsexual in a provincial high school does seem very high, but Mr Sitisak assured me that in his experience it was not unusual. . . .

'At that age it's good for them to have a specific place,' [Suttirat Simsiriwong, a campaigner for transgender rights] said.

"'But when they graduate from school or university, they will know how to have medical treatment. They won't want to go into a transgender toilet because they will want to be accepted as a woman - so they will go to the women's toilet.'"

The AP version of the same story is more dry and factual than the BBC story. The AP story is repeated pretty much without alteration at several news outlets like MSNBC, USA Today and Fox News.


Anonymous said...

Interesting. My first thought was "separate but equal" and the idea made me uncomfortable. But now...I'm not so sure. I do like how trans people are being recognized...that there is an option for them.

BGreen said...

My first thought was that people would take this as purely a joke story.

I was pleased at how thoughtful and respectful the BBC story was. I only decided to post this when I saw that the BBC story had NO hints of "let's laugh at the freaks" about it.

In contrast, the AP story was not derisive, but it was pretty utilitarian, "just the facts, ma'am" in its overall feel.