A Thai university struck a blow for LGBT rights this week when it introduced an official dress code for cross-dressing students, giving clearly defined rules for ‘ladyboys’ and ‘tomboys’.
Thailand is one of the few countries left in the world where university students are required to wear uniforms. These usually consist of a white shirt and black trousers or skirt, though jeans are often allowed instead of trousers.
The university’s announcement on Facebook met with an extremely positive reception, in keeping with Thailand’s relatively liberal attitude towards sexuality.
The dress code was announced by the university’s School of Applied and Fine Arts, which highlighted its own “open attitude towards sexuality”. It did, however, ask students to dress appropriately and follow the rules, which include no short skirts, no sandals and no torn jeans.
Coconuts Bangkok reported: “The announcement was posted as a guide to the freshmen. Although cross-dressing has been widely tolerated on the university’s campuses, the announcement was welcomed as an official endorsement.”
While certainly welcome, the announcement does raise the question once again whether Thai university students should have to wear uniforms in the first place.
In 2013 transgender female Thammasat University student ‘Aum Neko’ launched a racy poster campaign challenging the requirement to wear uniforms. Her actions did not go down well with authorities and she even had a lese majeste complaint filed against her.
Complaints over ‘inappropriate’ uniforms worn by female Thai students are also commonplace, with crackdowns coming along every year or so.
In 2011, Thai university uniforms were even voted the sexiest in the world, according to an online pole by two Japanese websites.