Thailand: Thammasat U ordered by court to rehire transgender lecturer in ‘Women’s Day win’

THE CENTRAL Administrative Court has ordered Thammasat University to rehire a transgender person as a lecturer. The verdict in favour of Kathawut “Kath” Khangpiboon, which came out yesterday, said the university’s reasons for not hiring her are illegitimate.

“Although she might have some impolite words and inappropriate pictures on social media, those actions are not prohibited characteristics for university officials,” the court said in its statement. It overruled Thammasat’s decision, made a few years ago, not to hire Kathawut as a lecturer. 

“I hope my case will set a precedent, boosting job opportunities for people of all genders,” Kathawut said.

At that time, Kathawut had already sailed through the recruitment process and been teaching at the university’s Faculty of Social Administration. Despite the faculty’s approval of her employment, the Thammasat executive board blocked Kathawut from being hired as a permanent lecturer. 

While Kathawut suspected that Thammasat was biased against her for her gender identity, the court yesterday said the case was not about gender. Thammasat staff had said they had concerns that Kathawut’s social-media style was inappropriate and might hurt the university’s image.

Sitting inside the courtroom with Kathawut, Chumaporn Tangkliang, a core member of the Togetherness for Equality and Action Group, said she had seen an open-mindedness and liberal attitude in the court.  “For example, the court does not see Kath’s social-media posts as unethical. Those posts are not public. They are information Kath has shared with friends,” Chumaporn said. 

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