Tomboy students seek equality

Tomboy students at Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University (SSRU) are demanding equality after their professors banned them from wearing pants to class but allowed male gay students to attend class wearing skirts, an SSRU report said on Tuesday.

  • Published: 5/02/2013 at 01:05 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

Kapook.com photos

The women complained that being forced by teachers to wear female attire to classrooms, instead of male clothing, distressed them. It also denied them their free will, and breached the constitution and the principle of gender equality, the report said.

Jinda Pigulgaew, a third year student, said she did not like wearing a skirt because she did not feel like herself. She always changed into a skirt only immediately before entering class and switched back to pants right after.

"When I see that [homosexual] men come to class wearing skirts I just feel that's unfair. However, I do understand that in our current society men have more advantages,” said Ms Jinda.

Another tomboy student Kanokwan Wongsaroj said that she had been asked to leave a classroom just because she was wearing trousers.  She said even though she wore slacks she always followed the dress code. 

Thakul Srisohpol, a gay student who attends university as a female, said he sometimes ran into problems with teachers on this issue as well. As for the tomboys' protest, he supports the girls because they have the right to dress that way if they wish.

"It's not like we have any intention to cause any harm. We're all grown-ups and understand the regulations. If they let us wear what we want then we'll follow their dress code," he said.

A reporter said SSRU professor Nantida Ohtagam told them that the reason she does not allow tomboy students to come to her class wearing pants is because they still look like women, unlike gay students who change their hair and looks as well.

"If these students don't feel happy wearing a female uniform then they need to talk with the teachers first," Ms Nantida said.

"We don’t want to segregate these individuals  They all have equal rights as students. I feel that the university will find the best solution for them."

Some homosexual students, male and female, were afraid to voice their discontent because the professors can deduct behaviour marks, leading to variety of punishments, reports said.

The report said the SSRU’s dress code does not have any rules or regulations which permit students to wear cross-gender uniform.

Internet users on Facebook and popular Thai web boards Pantip.com and Sanook.com have mixed opinions on university students cross-dressing.

A Pantip commenter said tomboy students already look like men so they should be allowed to wear pants nonetheless, and  university students were mature enough to make their own decisions.

"This is about equality. If men can wear skirts then women can wear pants too," another Pantip user said.

Female students wearing pants would not cause society to degenerate, a poster said.

However, some netizens expressed concern about tomboy students using women's restrooms. 

"This also concerns our (women's) safety. We sometimes can't be sure if the tomboys are really men pretending to be women in our restrooms," a female netizen said.

A netizen said male transsexual students had previously been granted permission to wear female attire during graduation ceremonies and now the transgender group is calling for more individual rights, without considering the rights of the public.

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