International Of Diversity In Organisations Essay


Discuss About The International Of Diversity In Organisations?



Third sex or third gender as it is popularly referred to is a concept where people are categorized either by society or themselves as being neither a woman or a man. Under this context the third term is used to imply ‘other (Winter, 2006)’. The term third gender is also used to describe a distinct social category that is preset in those societies which recognize the existent of more than 2 genders. The state of being identified by the society or personally identifying as a woman or a man or third gender is mostly defined by the gender role and gender identity of the individual in the society where they live. The debate regarding the status of third gender has been quite intensive in the Southeast Asia region.

Thailand is one of the countries in the Southeast Asia region to hint at the constitutional recognition of the third gender. This literature review will analyze one of the articles on Thailand’s decision to recognize the third gender in its constitution with the objective of determining what factors led to the decision and its long term impacts. In reviewing the article titled, “Thailand’s Transgender People Aren’t Just ‘Ladyboys’ Anymore,” by Jay Michaelson, the paper will also seek to investigate how the decision will impact the country social system and what it means for the LGBT community in the country.

Literature Review

The article by Jay Michaelson discusses a decision that was made by Thailand’s Constitution Drafting Committee on the 10th of January 2015 to include the term third gender into the country’s constitution as an acceptable gender. This proposal was made with the objective of ensuring that the new constitution would prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender expression or gender identity. In the article the author seeks to examine the implication of Thailand’s decision and the reason why such a move was taken in Thailand.

The author indicates that individuals who attempt to understand the context of the decision made by the constitutional drafting committee usually end up misunderstanding it due to the difference in cultural contexts. This statement by the author is based on the fact that different cultures have varied understanding of gender expression and gender identity. In countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and India, the term third gender is used to refer to Hijra ( transgender individuals) (Yamphaka, 2007).

In the Thailand context, the phrase third gender is used to refer to individuals who are classified as Katoey. These are transgender, transsexuals, and effeminate men or cross dressers. Prior to the proposal to officially recognize individuals who are categorized as Kotoey as a valid gender, the Katoey were considered to be inferior and considerably discriminated against. According to the Committee’s spokesman Kamnnoo Sittisamarn, the inclusion of third gender into the constitution is due to the fact that Thai society has evolved ad recognized the need for protecting all sexes not only men and women.

Michealson proceeds to indicate that traditional Thai attitudes are both a hindrance and solution to the problems being faced by the Katoey’s. In a survey conducted to determine the views of the Thai people towards Katoey’s, it was determined that people who are closely related with Katoeys encourage the children to express themselves as they wish to. In the survey it was estimated that approximately 40.7% of Thai citizens held positive attitudes towards MTFTGs (Thailand to recognise "third gender" in new constitution –panel, 2015).

A number of studies have revealed that Thai’s in urban areas facilitate an attitude that encourages individuals to express themselves in a manner that they deem to be fit (Michaelson, 2015). However, the study also highlights the fact that even though certain gender practices are socially accepted within Thai culture, official government institutions and a small section of the society still discriminate against individuals who identify as Katoey.

Thai spiritual beliefs have also played a significant role in shaping Thailand’s traditional attitudes towards third genders. Unlike western spiritual beliefs where gender is defined based on the persons anatomy. In traditional Thailand spiritual belief gender is defined based on a person’s social and sexual role (Bering, 2015). Studies have also revealed that ancient Thai myths on creation speak of the existence of three genders. These beliefs have led to a majority of Thailand’s society (especially those individuals in the Northern part of the country) have a positive attitude towards the concept of third sex.

In his article Michaelson indicates that even though third gender individuals are still being discriminated against, the move to officially recognize them is a significant step forward. Their recognition within the constitution is a significant step due to the fact that they too will enjoy the same social rights that are afforded to members of the male and female genders. The author proceeds to highlight the fact that as it is the country’s constitution only prohibits discrimination based on a person’s sex and gender.

This statement serves to highlight the fact that as it currently stands the constitution does not specifically refer to third gender and therefore it does not protect them. By including the proposed annex which states that gender includes all gender identities and specifying that gender does not only refer to the male and female genders but also the phet thi sam ( third gender), the constitution protects those who fall under this category from being discriminated against.

In the article the author also points out to the loss of the meaning of third gender in its translation. The author points out to the fact that contrary to popular belief, the term third gender is a short hand whose contexts has been misrepresented by the media. In the Thai context the term third gender was used primarily to refer to transgender individuals. However, due to the misunderstanding of the context, the term has been used to refer to the most prevalent transgender like category in the country which is Kathoey.

By doing this the definition of third gender is restricted to individuals who are biologically born as males but may assume female identities either through acquiring gender identities ( think of themselves as females), gender expression ( present or express themselves as females) and/or sexual characteristics ( undergo sexual reassignment procedures) (Beyrer, 1998). This misunderstood translation of third gender threatens to be a hindrance to obtaining the exact objective of what the low set out to establish.

The misinterpretation of the term stems from the fact that the colloquial translation of Kathoey is “ladyboy” (Methangkun, 1986). A number of human rights activists have argued that even if passed, the misinterpretation of the term will result in a large percentage of those who should be protected by the low being left out. The activists argue that members of the LGBT community and individuals who born as females but identify as males should also be covered by the term.

According to them, the phrase other should be used to refer to all other genders that do not conform to the guidelines used to identify the male and female genders. This will ensure that the inclusion of third gender into the constitution will effectively protect all other individuals who do not identify as either males or females.

The author also argues that the fact that ladyboys are ubiquitous in the country and most of them work as entertainers has resulted in most people not taking them getting little social respect (Jackson, 1996). This argument stems from the fact that society usually judges people in the way they present themselves. Studies have indicated that if a community is usually portrayed in a negative manner to the larger society, it is more likely that the society will perceive that particular society negatively regardless of the fact that the negative representation does not reflect the entire society (Claes, 2011).

This logic is reflected in Thai society’s perception of ladyboys and entertainers and individuals who should not be taken seriously. This negative representation of ladyboys affects the society’s view of individuals who categorize themselves as third genders as they are seen not to be serious.

The author further proceeds to argue that the fact that Thailand is one of the few countries in the world that have recognized the third gender as a legitimate gender category does not stem from the concept of democratic practice or advanced gender theory but from the fact that those roles and identities are part and parcel of traditional Thai culture.

This statement insinuates that the major reason as to why third gender individuals have experienced such positives attitudes from Thai people is because of traditional Thai culture. Traditional Thai culture unlike most western and cultures recognize and appreciates the existence of more than two gender identities. It is also important to note that it is this positive attitude of the society towards transgender that has contributed to the large number of individuals who identify as third genders in Thailand.

It is because of the Thai culture that third gender individuals in the country enjoy a greater degree of public acceptance and safety than transgender individuals in most other parts of the world. The author also points out that due to this fact the transgender individuals are estimated to be between 10,000 to 100,000 people from the population of 56 million. Due to the social acceptance the transgender have been able to be famous models, actors, and politician (Gooren et al., 2013).

In this section of the article the author highlights the fact that lack of cultural support and acceptance is one of the major reasons as to why most third gender individuals in society usually end up underperforming. Without societal acceptance and support, an individual is unable to effectively express him/herself; the individual also looses his/her self confidence thereby negatively affecting his performable in society.

Despite the level of success obtained by Thai society with regards to the acceptance of transgender individuals, there still exists a number of challenges hindering their social image. The Kathoey identity has been widely stigmatized and the result of that stigmatization is a significant percentage of (Kathoeys engaging in sex work Thailand to recognise "third gender" in new constitution –panel, 2011). The stigmatization has also resulted in a significant percentage of members from this social group being excluded from professions that are deemed to be upper class professions, marginalized and rejected y their families.

A large percentage of individuals from the Southern part of the country believe that being Kathoey is retribution for bad actions that individuals performed in their past life. This belief is closely related to the Buddhist belief of reincarnation. Buddhism is one of the most popular religions in the most popular religions in Thailand and has significantly influenced the way people view certain societal life. In Buddhism, individuals are reincarnated based on their past life. Those who behaved poorly in their past life will have their transgression punished during their reincarnation.

In the article, the author also cites western representation of transgender individuals as another driver of negative perception of transgender individuals in the . The western discourse of medicalization has greatly contributed to individuals who identify as third gender being viewed as disordered or sick (Gooren et al., 2015).

The article also proceeds to discuss the concept of transmen which is new in Southeast Asia. The term transman refers to a male individual who was assigned a female gender at birth. Transman unlike the cisgender men usually identify with any sexuality like bisexualism gay, pansexual, polysexul, demisexual etc (Newman et al., 2013). Individuals who identify has transmen argue that the Thailand government has misrepresented them significantly and as a result of this misrepresentation they have not been able to enjoy most of the rights that should be afforded to them.

The perceived neglect of transgender men is based on the fact that Thai society pays more attention to the plight and needs of transwomen who constitute a significant percentage of the transgender society in the country (Sinnott, 2004). The proposed constitutional changes w will serve to eliminate some of the discrimination that the individuals in these groups are experiencing and create room for social cohesion.

The author compares progress made by Thailand with regards to the rights of transgender with those made by the U.S. He argues that unlike in Thailand where a significant amount of progress has been made with regards to the plight of transgender, in the U.S, the rights of those who fall under the transgender community have been overshadowed by those of gays and Lesbian.

The discrepancy between these two countries can be traced back to the fact that the organizations fighting for LGBT rights in the U.S are stronger than those fighting for transgender rights. It can also be due to the fact that the transgender community in the U.S is smaller than that of Thailand and as a result of this a significant percentage of the transgender in Thailand. This has resulted in most of the organizations championing for transgender rights in the country falling under the LGBT community umbrella. It is essential to highlight the fact that unlike in the U.S, the progress of transgender rights does not imply progress with regards to the rights of homosexuals.

In most Southeast Asian countries, homosexuality is still considered as a major offense and shunned by a significant percentage of the society. In Thailand some schools teach that homosexuality is a disease (Winter, 2006). This attitude has led to a large group of homosexual individuals in the country identifying them as transgender.


From the arguments presented in this paper, it is evident that the proposal made by the Constitutional Drafting community is just a first step towards obtaining equal treatment for individuals who neither identify as males or females (Sinnott, 2004). Even though the proposal might serve to bring equity for transgender within Thai society, certain negative portrayals of transgender individuals might serve to negatively affect the impact of the proposal.

It is also evident from the arguments provided that Thai culture has played a significant role in shaping how transgender are viewed. The inclusion of the proposal into the country’s constitution is not as a result of the country being developed socially or politically but due to traditional practices that has made transgender individuals widely accepted in the society. The society’s traditional culture tends to affect social perception of transgender individuals both positively and negatively.

In the paper this is demonstrated in the fact that the Buddhist religion believes in their being more than two genders. This belief has led to most of the members of that society believing in the existence of third, fourth and fifth genders (?naldi, 2011). As a result of this there has been a significant increase in the number of Thai individuals who identify as transgender. On the other hand, the same Buddhist religion also speaks of reincarnation.

As a result of this belief a significant percentage of individuals in the Southern part of the country believe that transgender are reincarnated individual who did evil in their past lives. This belief has led to discrimination against transgender individuals (Saisuwan, 2011) Based on the arguments it is logical to conclude that opinion regarding transgender individuals in Thailand is considerably divided. The new law will serve to promote social equity and provide transgender individuals with the rights that have been afforded to other members of the society (Towle, & Morgan, 2002). It is also evident from the arguments that the author believes that more should be done to promote social equity for transgender individuals in the country. However, he recognizes the fact that the obtainment of constitutional recognition as a valid gender is one of the largest huddles that the country has overcame.


Thailand to recognise "third gender" in new constitution -panel. (2015, January 15). Retrieved October 03, 2017, from

Towle, E. B., & Morgan, L. M. (2002). Romancing the transgender native: rethinking the use of the" third gender" concept. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 8(4), 469-497.

Sinnott, M. (2004). Toms and dees: Transgender identity and female same-sex relationships in Thailand. University of Hawaii Press.

Winter, S. (2006). Thai transgenders in focus: Demographics, transitions and identities. International Journal of Transgenderism, 9(1), 15-27.

Jackson, P. (2003). Performative genders perverse desires: a bio-history of Thailands same-sex and transgender cultures. Intersections: Gender History and Culture in the Asian Context, (9), 43.

Newman, P. A., Roungprakhon, S., & Tepjan, S. (2013). A social ecology of rectal microbicide acceptability among young men who have sex with men and transgender women in Thailand. Journal of the International AIDS Society, 16(1).

Gooren, L. J., Sungkaew, T., Giltay, E. J., & Guadamuz, T. E. (2015). Cross-sex hormone use, functional health and mental well-being among transgender men (Toms) and Transgender Women (Kathoeys) in Thailand. Culture, health & sexuality, 17(1), 92-103.

Sinnott, M. (2004). Toms and dees: Transgender identity and female same-sex relationships in Thailand. University of Hawaii Press.

Gooren, L. J., Sungkaew, T., & Giltay, E. J. (2013). Exploration of functional health, mental well-being and cross-sex hormone use in a sample of Thai male-to-female transgendered persons (kathoeys). Asian journal of andrology, 15(2), 280.

?naldi, S. (2011). Back in the Spotlight: The Cinematic Regime of Representation of Kathoeys and Gay Men in Thailand. Queer Bangkok: 21st Century Markets, Media, and Rights, edited by PA Jackson, 81-98.

Claes, M. T. (2011). Kathoeys of Thailand: A Diversity Case in International Business. International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities & Nations, 10(5).

Beyrer, C. (1998). Other genders: kathoeys, waria, hinjras, toms and dees. War in the blood: sex, politics and AIDS in Southeast Asia. Bangkok: White Lotus Publishing.

Methangkun, B. (1986). Khon Pen Kathoey Dai Yang-rai (How Can People Be Kathoeys?). Bangkok: Abhidhamma Foundation.

Thailand to recognise 'third gender' in new constitution. (2016, January 19). Retrieved October 03, 2017, from

Thailand to recognise "third gender" in new constitution -panel. (2015, January 15). Retrieved October 03, 2017, from

Jackson, P. A. (1996). The Persistence of Gender: From Ancient Indian Pandakas to Modern Thai Gay-Ouings.

Yamphaka, J. (2007). Thai kathoeys go international. Manager Newspaper Daily News, 13, 13.

Saisuwan, P. (2011). Kathoeys’ and women’s use of first-person personal reference terms in Thai.

Jackson, P. A. (1996, October). Thai academic studies of kathoeys and gay men: a brief critical history. In Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Thai Studies, Theme III: Family, Community and Sexual Sub-Cultures in the AIDS Era (pp. 14-17).

Asher, K. T.. (2012, October 01). Thailand: The Tale of the Pink Toilet - Transgender Rights in Thailand. Retrieved October 03, 2017, from

Michaelson, J. (2015, February 2). Thailand’s Transgender People Aren’t Just ‘Ladyboys’ Anymore. Retrieved October 3, 2017, from

Bering, J. (2015). The Third Gender. Retrieved October 03, 2017, from

How to cite this essay: