Thai Transman Talk Tackling COVID-19

By July 10, 2020 July 13th, 2020 Learning, Newsroom, Regional

Contributor:
Trin Pattanaweroj


Hello, my name is Trin. I am 45 years old. I was born in Hat Yai, Songkla province in Southern Thailand. I came to study in Bangkok in 1995. I was until recently, an IT officer at a leading company in Bangkok. 

Before COVID-19 pandemic I planned to focus on my career. I had planned to travel to Hong Kong and Singapore, and also regularly visiting my parents in the South.

When I was in kindergarten, I felt that I needed to protect those weaker than me, and I liked to play with boys, like football, and would take off my shirts like other boys did, until my mother warned me. This is when I know I was different from other boys.  At primary school I knew that like girls and I would hangout with friends that are tomboys.

I therefore think that what is called in Thailand as ‘tomboy’ until I was 39-40. Then, I saw some news and heard about transition, and thought that it would be too expensive and too far a dream for me. But I then saw so many transmen coming out on social media like Jimmy or Chin talking about being ‘transmen’ and how they transitioned.This made me go to the Tangerine clinic to consult and undergo hormones therapy, and six months later I underwent breast surgery, and then two years later had a hysterectomy, and now I am waiting for the next process. 

Since COVID-19 happened I was not able to visit my parents, and during this time my mother is sick. I couldn’t go to work at my office but can work from home instead.

During the lockdown, I stayed with my girlfriend. The situation created a bit of tension between us because we were with each other all the time. And when I am working from home, I would concentrate on my work and didn’t talk much to her, which upset her. I ensured that we spend time together for lunch and after work hours so she doesn’t feel stress. At home with my girlfriend we cook together a lot.

It was tough to work from home, and I worried a lot about the job security and livelihood. When leaving the house, I have to prepare mask, sanitiser and also ensure social distancing to avoid COVID-19.

To stay connected, I use Facebook/Line/Workplace/Zoom to communicate with co-workers, friends, family and transman group.

The problem that most transmen face during COVID-19 time is accessing services from hospitals as many appointments have been cancelled. Also, they can’t travel to hospitals and receive testosterone. Some people can’t inject the testosterone for months. Buying them from shops outside hospitals is very expensive. Self-injection is used by some of trans because clinics refused to inject testosterone.

Medical services for trans are not covered for the whole country, accessing the services is crucial but hospitals consider cancer, diabetes and others as serious symptoms and more important than services for trans. So, postponing and cancelling the appointments often happen, furthermore, they can’t travel due to lockdown measures. Meanwhile, clinics in provinces do not know about services for trans people. Providing knowledge of medical services for trans; transitioning and hormone treatment is necessary.

I hope the situation will turn to normal as soon as possible for better economy. This time is very difficult for people, shops and malls – also many people are unemployed and the rate will only increase. I was one of the unlucky one, and had to leave my job, and as Thailand has eased restrictions, I have been able to travel to stay with my parents in the South. When I am able to receive transitioning treatment, then I will travel back to Bangkok, rather than restart the process in the province.

For other services that transmen want, In my opinion that would be a matter of marriage registration, and also ability to change gender on  official documents, as Thailand currently has no law that allows transgender people to change their title, and sex/gender on official papers.