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Trans woman wins historic seat in Thailand

A transgender woman has become the first to compete and then win a seat in local Thai elections
Yonlada Suanyos is the first transgender to compete and win a seat in local Thai elections

Trangender Yonlada Suanyos beat out two male opponents to win a seat as councillor for local government in Nan province in northern Thailand.

The 30-year-old received 3,808 votes on Sunday (27 May), edging out former Nan mayor Phawat Sattayawong, who lost as a close second by fewer than 150 votes, according to unofficial results cited by the Bangkok Post.

The first transgender to ever seek to enter politics, Yonlada said yesterday (28 May) her position on the Provincial Administration Organization (PAO)Council will help her work better with the government while solving problems concerning the rights of women and trans-female groups.

Yonlada sees herself as a ‘new wave’ in politics and believes her work would receive more support, especially from transgenders. Yonlada had gender realignment surgery when she was 16and is a renowned transgender rights activist.

Thai society has a reputation of accepting transsexuals or 'kathoey' in Thai. But although there are several famous kathoey models, singers and film stars, beyond the entertainment business the kathoey community (estimated as one in 165 Thai males) was not represented.

Yonlada has vowed to be a representative of transgenders and gays, carrying their demands to the Parliament. She also won on a policy manifesto that includes addressing the threat of flood, services for youth and the elderly and opening a 24-hour citizen complaint hotline.

A PhD candidate who runs a satellite TV station and has her own jewellery business, Yonlada was also a member of transgender pop group Venus Flytrap and was known as Posh Venus, according to Global Post.

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