Thursday, June 19, 2008

Yes, It's A Transvestite Toilet

Man, if the folks in California who are all in an uproar over the gay marriage thing ("What's next? People marrying dogs?!" That's my favorite argument. It's hil-arious. Can't get enough of it.) ever went to Thailand, they'd drop dead from sheer shock. Especially if they visited the Kampang School in northeast Thailand, where the future is now and that's why they have installed a "transvestite toilet". Wait. What?

Correct. Apparently, they did some sort of a survey of the school's 2,600 students last term and found that more than 200 of them considered themselves "transgender". (No word on how many of them considered themselves "super genius" or "better than you". This is high school, after all.) So in May when school resumed, a unisex restroom was revealed to all! Ooohhh! Aaahhh! The sign for the "Transvestite Toilet" is a human figure that is split in half (a sign that, to me, would indicate "Extreme Pain Ahead!") with the man half being blue and the woman half being red. (I'm not all for the stereotypical shading of the halves, but what are you going to do? They are in Thailand.) And if a divided stick figure with two different colored halves doesn't clue you in, underneath it also says "Transvestite Toilet", a name that more implies something about the receptacle itself rather than those who should be using it.

And it was put to good use immediately. According to the fine folks up there in Canada (America's Hat) at cnews.canoe.ca, "Three transgender students praised the new restroom as they plucked their eyebrows and applied face powder in front of the mirror outside the stalls." Um, OK. And if you're wondering if the face powdering transvestites had any comments, they did! Vichai Sangaskul, a student with his pixie hairdo pulled back with a pink barrette, told PBS Thailand (who knew?), "I'm so happy about this. It looks bad going to female restrooms. What would other people think?" Yes. What would other people think, said the boy with the pixie hairdo pulled back with a pink barrette. I can see that you're very concerned about what others may think of you, so to avoid any conflicts, you just clip that pink barrette in your soft, soft hair and blend right in, don't you?

Apparently Thailand is a very conservative land, but for some reason, extremely tolerant of those who visibly stand out in it's transgender community. By the way, in Thailand, the term "transgender" is pretty generic. They throw everything in that category. Those are are cross-dressers, transvestites, transsexuals and, just to make sure they got 'em all (and in this case, they really did!) those who are born with the physical characteristics of both sexes (but, contrary to what the sign would have you believe, NOT physically split down the middle and shaded different colors.)

And although this concept is new for a secondary school, it has already made it's way into some of the other colleges in Thailand. There's a technical college in Chiang Mai (that's in Thailand) which set up the "Pink Lotus Bathroom" because 15 of it's 1,500 students were transvestites. (I'm going to assume that the "Pink Lotus" is an alternative symbol for "Human Split In Two". I don't like much more than the other, though.) The plan, according to the Deputy Education Minister, Mr. Something Thai and Unpronounceable, is to count the number of transgender students at universities to determine if there "are a lot of them". If it turns out that there are "a lot of them", then according to the same guy, "We may have to consider building toilets and dormitories for them." Wow. Here in California, people protesting those who are engaging in gay marriage are condemning those individuals to hell. But in Thailand, they're going to build them a special toilet and, quite possibly, a couple of dormitories as well. The differences between cultures never ceases to amaze me. (Then again, idiots never cease to amaze me either.)

But in Thailand, the transgender are everywhere. Regularly, on TV, you will see transgender individuals on Thai soap operas. Throughout Bangkok, you'll see transgender individuals working at department store cosmetics counters and restaurants (and not those little Thai hole-in-the-wall restaurants, either. We're talking the popular restaurants. Think Thai Olive Garden. Wait. Don't think that. It sounds wrong. Or unappetizing at best.). You'll see them in office jobs and, surprise, in the red-light districts. Thailand also holds transgender beauty pageants. Go figure.

So what have we learned? Plenty. You can go to Thailand and get an education and not have to worry about being harassed, grabbed or groped when you use the restroom at your school because it's likely there will be a "Transvestite Toilet" for you to primp and preen and whatever else it is you need to do. We've also learned that even though Thailand is conservative, they don't see "conservative" as meaning "condemning" and they are very accepting of those who see themselves (or just are) transgender. I've also learned that I think I really like Thailand. Way to go guys.

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"America's Hat"...funny never thought of us like that...could be worse...we could be Mexico "America's underwear"...

One would think that it was a slow news day in Canada (pig farmer murders r on the backburner i suppose) since canoe news reported on transvestite toilets in thailand...say that 7x really fast...lol

Mare said...

I had thought of "Mexico, the bottom of America's shoe". Either one, nowhere near as complimentary as "Canada, America's Hat." And you're probably right about the slow news day. After all, with the murderous pig farmer convicted and no feet washing ashore, what else is there besides transvestite toilets?