The Rainbow Stories: Learning the Way of Life through the Lens of LGBTI Youth
Did you know that Thailand still has a group of people who have not received equality or may not have the right to access what they deserve despite being a citizen of the same country?
Among these people, LGBT people are one of the groups that have been overlooked for their needs and are often denied assistance. Due to social bias that is not open to gender diversity and may not yet understand the vulnerability of LGBTI people, they have to struggle to stand up for themselves and find a way to advocate for their rights.
Through this experience-exchanging dialogue, we would like to invite everyone to learn more about LGBTI people and their way of life in this country.
Thailand may be known for being an open country when it comes to LGBTI issues. Despite its reputation for being progressive in this matter, the reality is that being LGBTI still isn’t easy. LGBTI youth in Thailand face challenges that are unique and different from other identities, this can make life difficult and stressful for them.
“Different” appearances lead to discrimination
One of the biggest challenges faced by LGBTI youth in Thailand is discrimination. Despite Thailand’s reputation for being tolerant of LGBTIs more than any other country in Southeast Asia, discrimination against the LGBTI group persists. This can be expressed in various ways, from verbal abuse to physical violence. LGBTI people have a way of expressing themselves differently and may not fit the “gender standard” societal norms. Of course, there are many people who tolerate it, but there are also many who do not, which may lead to threats, bullying, and even violence. Sadly, this situation often occurs, especially when they openly express their true selves.
The obstacle that LGBTI youth in Thailand often have to face is a lack of support from family and friends. Family is very important in Thai culture. Many LGBTI youth encounter family rejection or denial when expressing their identity. This can lead to the feelings of loneliness and depression. It’s difficult to find friends who understand the same things. In addition, many LGBTI youth may not have a support network to understand what they are experiencing and what they really need.
Policies that do not protect against discrimination is an indirect violence
A major challenge remains legal protection for LGBTI people. In Thailand, there are no anti-discrimination laws that specifically protect LGBTI people, meaning LGBTI youths may be subject to discrimination in housing, employment, and education without being able to seek any legal assistance. Of course, love is not against the law, but there are still no anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBTI people, nor is there a law that allows same sex marriage or civil partnership registration.
In addition, an important issue exchanged in this dialogue is the lack of remedial measures for victims of violence due to gender identity. Thailand is another country that values the norm of men and women. However, it ignores the importance of helping those whose gender identity does not meet the main social identity standards. Although LGBTI often experiences sexual violence, the importance of treating such traumatized experiences is often overlooked.
These issues can be illustrated that people often disregard the fundamental rights of LGBTI people. One of the obstacles of being a transgender person is having to face many obstacles, such as undergoing gender affirming surgery or hormonal treatment. The expenditures for this matter are currently not supported by the government.
Thai Society’s Understanding of Gender Diversity
Finally, in the current society, Thailand still lacks awareness and understanding about LGBTI issues, which may lead to misunderstandings, stereotypes, and generalizations of what being LGBTI really is. This makes it difficult for young people to find the right information and support. Schools do not always provide support, nor do they always have resources. This may make LGBTI youth feel unsafe and difficult to stay in school. The lack of such education also makes it difficult for schools to provide safe spaces or appropriate resources and support for LGBTI students.
In summary, Thai LGBTQ youth face a series of challenges, including discrimination, lack of support from family and friends, lack of legal protection, and education issues. Despite the progress of support for all LGBTQ citizens in Thailand, there is still a long way to go to transform into a society free from discrimination and prejudice. It is important that policymakers, educators, and the entire society must strive together to create a more accessible environment for all young people. Society must consider and take gender diversity factors into account to create a society that truly benefits all groups.