Transgender lecturer sues Thammasat University

Transgender lecturer sues Thammasat University

The fight goes on: Transgender lecturer Kath Khangpiboon has taken her case to court, suing Thammasat University for alleged discimination in job opportunity. (Bangkok Post file photo)
The fight goes on: Transgender lecturer Kath Khangpiboon has taken her case to court, suing Thammasat University for alleged discimination in job opportunity. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Transgender lecturer and activist Kath Khangpiboon on Monday filed a lawsuit in a Bangkok court against Thammasat University for allegedy unlawfully refusing her employment.

In the complaint brought in the Central Administrative Court, she accused the university and its screening committee of using unlawful discretion and committing serious breaches of her human dignity.

Ms Kath, who has a BA and MA in social work from Thammasat, was accepted for a job at the university’s faculty of social administration in June last year, but was prevented from taking up the post for nine months and then the employment offer was retracted in March.

The faculty approved her credentials, but her employment was vetoed by a university screening committee which said Ms Kath had used language in public media in an inappropriate manner which affected the image of a Thammasat lecturer.

Ms Kath is an active member of the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) movement.  

Ms Kath appealed twice, once in April and again in June, but the panel upheld its decision, claiming she had some ethical issues. She believes the decision was gender-based. 

The 29-year-old previously worked as a guest lecturer at the faculty while waiting for the committee’s approval, which she said was long overdue. 

Ms Kath asked the court to order the screening committee to retract its March 2 and June 22 resolutions and accept her as a lecturer in the social administration faculty.

The lawsuit seeks 363,000 baht plus 7.5% interest in compensation for damage and a monthly payment of 23,700 baht for lost opportunity until the panel accepts her, beginning the day after the case was filed. 

Ms Kath hoped her case would set a precedent for Thai society in the understanding of gender rights and equality. Her lawyer, Nakhon Chompoochart, said this case would examine the university's admissions policy. 

The university on Monday insisted Ms Kath’s gender or sexual appearance did not play any role in the disapproval of her application. 

Udom Rathamarit, deputy head of department of human resource management, said she was rejected because the screening committee felt Ms Kath’s behaviour in posting messages on social media was inappropriate.

"The committee’s consideration has nothing to do with a third gender or any form of discrimination. It  mainly concerns about [Ms Kath’s] past behaviour in posting messages on Facebook,” Mr Udom said.

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