Thai transgender woman describes her happiness after avoiding national service

A Thai transgender woman was delighted after avoiding national service in Thailand. Jiratchaya Thipkhamkerd, 23, turned heads after arriving in glamorous clothes and makeup at the military recruitment site in Ang Thong province on April 4. Despite being unable to join the army, the trans woman had to show up at the annual conscription event to prove that her current gender is different from her male birth certificate – exempting her from service. Jiratchaya said she was nervous during the process her long brown hair and add-on breasts caught everyone’s attention – with some military chiefs even asking to pose for pictures with her. She said: ‘I was so nervous because some of the men were looking at me. This is the first year that I came to the recruitment centre, as I previously postponed joining. ‘My heart was beating fast during the recruitment because I wanted this time to be the last time that I had to identify myself to the army. ‘I was quite prepared in case I were drafted as the law still required trans women to participate in the enlistment in national service but I was eventually exempted.’ Jiratchaya was among groups of males who have turned 21-years-old and are expected to enlist in the army for a gruelling two-year stint. Recruits are then selected randomly at the military call-up events. Trans women across the country – who still have male birth certificates – are legally required to attend the events. However, they then have to show medical certificates proving their new gender, which excuses them from service as trans women are not allowed in the Thai army. The army draft events will be held around the country until April 9. The estimated percentage of transgender people in Thailand is 0.3 per cent but Thai laws still impose some restrictions on their rights. Aside from not being able to join the army, they don’t receive the same marriage benefits as straight couples although they are allowed to marry. Thailand’s military includes the Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force and has around 300,000 state employees. The country’s government was also formed by the military following a coup in 2014 and the prime minister is career soldier General Prayut Chan-o-cha. Thai males have the option to study the military for three years in secondary school or attend the national service recruitment, where draws are made to choose who is selected. College and university graduates can also have shorter one-year stints in the military if they volunteer. Some young men also volunteer for the national service because they want to join the army.