Thailand’s first transgender candidate for prime minister and her supporters took to the streets this weekend – rallying support ahead of the country’s elections.
Pauline Ngarmpring, 52, was born a man and had a successful business promoting sports before undergoing gender reassignment surgery in the United States three years ago.
She returned to Bangkok and became involved in politics, joining the Mahachon Party and championing the rights of the country’s openly LGBT population of more than seven million people.
Pauline, who was born as Pinit Ngarmpring, is now hoping to beat the current military dictator, Prayut Chan-o-cha, and become the country’s first transgender prime minister when locals vote on March 24.
Footage shows her campaigning with her supporters, including a number of Thai ladyboys, yesterday in the Chatuchak area of Bangkok.
Pauline, who has two children, said: ”I’m the best candidate to represent the rights of Thailand’s LGBT people. But I can also offer much more than that. I will bring gender equality for the entire country.”
The Mahachon party is contesting some 200 seats in the 500-member House of Representatives. About 20 of the candidates are openly LGBT. Pauline joined only last November. Now, as their second-ranked nominee for prime minister, she finds herself a political trailblazer, a unique symbol of the fight for equality.
Before her transformation, Pauline was a reporter turned businessman who became well-known by founding a soccer fan association that became influential in Thai sporting circles.
Since her gender transition she’s made it her mission, she said, to educate society. Her new political role gives her the perfect platform to counter those who still view LGBT rights – and her candidacy – with scepticism.
She said: ”Nowadays people say, ‘Oh you are transgender? You want to become our prime minister. It’s going to be funny, it is going to be a very strange story’. But I don’t think that way. Whatever you are, you have your value. You love yourself and then you share with people.”