Nominating Sirisak Chaited as THAI TRANS HERO OF 2018.
Evidence that Sitisak (nickname Ton) is our most forthright advocate of gay rights is Ton’s own postings on social networks. [Pictures above and permission to use them and say nice things about our hero were obtained in an interview October 23, 2018].
Sirisak has smashed barriers and defied boundary markers more boldly than anyone in Thailand this year. He has rebranded himself as the bald binary bomber. Sirisak’s identity is fluid. “Now she’s femme … now he’s not!” Always both. Sirisak is so “Teflon” nothing sticks. Lately, Ton has been attracting attention wearing nothing but a couple of conflicting gender signals and holding a sign or two warning against a range of conceptual wrongs.
Nobody attracts attention like Sirisak.
Sirisak Chaited is a Chiang Mai resident. He graduated 15 years ago as a German language major from Payap University. He has been a gender rights advocate for nearly two decades and has been an activist volunteer since 2545 (CE 2002). He spends much time with M+, Chiang Mai’s best known HIV-AIDS prevention and education organization. He is owner of two businesses in Chiang Mai, from which he still manages to take time to respond to invitations all over the country to represent gender-rights causes.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe we hear a memo of the Trump administration has been leaked to the New York Times in which the US government is proposing to re-define transgender out of existence. The idea is to make it definite under the law that one’s sexuality is exclusively and unchangeable the one assigned at birth. That would make “Transgender” as well as “Intersex” legally impossible, and pave the way for still more oppressive actions against the rest of us on the LGBT spectrum.
Backlash and furor have been immediate.
I have doubts about this flash. Every time some outrage has been ignited by Trump-Pence in the past two years, it’s served to deflect attention from something wretched being concocted by Ryan-McConnell-Pence a few blocks away. At the moment, it occurs to me they’re afraid the election in 3 weeks may be trouble for them. What better way to get their homo-hysterical voter base agitated than to have them inflamed with pictures of angry people massing in front of the White House with pink and powder-blue flags?
We are so manipulated.
It is a delicate time in both Thailand the USA (not to mention Taiwan, Malaysia, Russia, and scores of other countries). Basic human rights incorporated in national laws are being acted upon. In Taiwan, a national referendum about marriage equality is coming on November 24. In the USA a national election on November 6 may help restore power to balance decisions on gender issues upset by recent Supreme Court appointments. In Thailand, committees are gathering opinions about how to expand civil rights to persons, regardless of gender. It will make a big difference if individuals get to designate their sexuality in the forthcoming Thai constitution expected before national elections next February.
Here in Thailand political activism is suppressed, but for the time being the door is again open for human rights advocates to raise consciousness on issues and help generate positive public opinion. Sirisak has turned himself into an icon, and now that he is a celebrity he is even being invited to lead training sessions for novice advocates. Internet social networks provide a forum, to which Sirisak’s protégés, followers, and target audience devote hours a day; but he has the courage to be fabulous enough to grab their attention. He is recognized, but he is brilliant at turning his recognition into advocacy for every form of gender diversity.
I wish we had more heroes like Sirisak Chaited.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.