Rajabhat Universities across Thailand and Suan Dusit University (former Rajabhat Suan Dusit) “are making an allowance” for transgender students to wear uniforms that align with their gender identity at graduation ceremonies, as a result of a petition submitted by transgender activist Jirapat Trongjitraksa.
Jirapat made it her mission to persuade universities to allow transgender students to dress according to their gender after being approached by a graduate from Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University who wishes to wear a female uniform at the graduation ceremony scheduled to be held in August.
Jirapat, a graduate of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Education, submitted a similar petition in 2019, leading to the University changing its regulations to allow students to wear uniforms that align with their gender identity.
She gathered information and submitted petitions to the parties involved. Her petition was sent to all Rajabhat universities. The universities held a meeting on June 19 to discuss the matter, resulting in the decision to unofficially allow graduates to wear uniforms that accord with their gender identity.
Although there is no official announcement from the universities, Sawarng Pupatwibul, Chair of the Rajabhat University Organizing Committee for the graduation ceremony, told Prachatai that students who wish to dress according to their gender identity can contact the university directly for permission to be granted.
A graduation ceremony is a rite of passage for many Thai families who flock to universities to attend the event to congratulate graduates who are family members. Many graduates who are transgender have often refrained from participating in graduation ceremonies because they could not wear uniforms that represent their gender identity.
Jirapat said five transgender people have so far submitted a request. Many are still not aware that they could do so.
However, she is concerned that the universities’ position will not lead to a lasting change in regulations unless current students demand this.