Transwoman denied teaching positions due to gender identity

On Saturday (27 April), Voice TV reported that Worawalun Taweekarn, a graduate of the Faculty of Education, Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University, has been denied teaching positions for the past two years because she is transgender.

Worawalun Taweekarn (left) with the winner and first runner-up of the 2018 Miss Tiffany's Universe (Source: Miss Tiffany's Universe)

Trans rights activist Nada Chaiyajit posted on her Facebook page that, for the past two years, Worawalun has been applying for a teaching positions, but her applications were rejected due to her gender identity.

Nada said that Worawalun has a Bachelor of Education in mathematics, and has been a maths tutor since she was in Mathayom 6 (Year 12). She has always dreamed of becoming a teacher. After graduation, Worawalun applied for teaching positions at four Christian schools, all of which rejected her applications. Worawalun was told by the schools’ human resources departments that the school executives would not like it if they accepted a transgender teacher, because she might present a bad example for students and that there were concerns about a sexual scandal.

In 2018, Worawalun entered Miss Tiffany’s Universe, an annual beauty contest for transgender women, in which she won second runner-up. Afterwards, she continued to apply for teaching positions, but once when she was being interviewed for a position, the interviewer said to her: “You’re the second runner-up Miss Tiffany. Why don’t you go and be a showgirl or work for a cosmetics brand? We’re a Christian school, so this might not be appropriate.”

Since Worawalun’s story began to circulate on social media, she has been questioned as to why she applied for teaching positions in Christian schools. Worawalun explained on her Facebook page that most major private schools are Christian schools, and that she applied at both single-sex and co-education schools. She also said in another post that while it is true that there are transgender teachers at many schools, there are still schools that discriminate. She said that she is taking action because she thinks that such a thing should not happen when there is a gender equality law which guarantees her rights.  

Nada said that a school’s most important duty is to offer public educational services, and therefore must not discriminate on the basis of gender. She also said that Worawalun will go to the Department of Women’s Affairs and Family Development (DWF) on 2 May to file a complaint with the Committee on Consideration of Unfair Gender Discrimination.

Thailand’s 2015 Gender Equality Act prohibits unfair treatment on the basis of gender, and under Section 18 of the Act, any person who thinks that they have suffered from gender-based discrimination may file a complaint with the Committee on Consideration of Unfair Gender Discrimination, which has the authority to ensure that appropriate actions are taken to end and prevent discrimination, and to ensure that there will be compensation and a remedy for the injured party.