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Sunday, March 24 saw Thailand hold its first elections since a military coup five years ago installed coup leader General Prayut Chan-o-cha as the nation’s prime minister. And while the Thai election results are still majorly in flux — many are calling the election “not free and fair,” and Thailand’s now-exiled former prime minister has written a scathing op-ed for The New York Times alleging the election was rigged — some history has reportedly been made, as Tanwarin Sukkhapisit is claiming victory as the first trans MP (member of parliament) to serve in the Thai legislature.
Sukkhapisit (pictured at top) is a filmmaker who ran as part of the Future Forward Party, which is believed to be Thailand’s third-largest political party. She also identifies as bisexual.
On Sunday she claimed victory on Facebook, posting (translated from Thai), “Thank you to all the hearts that hope Thailand will be better. This history, we created it together. Future Forward Party, thank you.” In another post she reportedly said, “Thank you from this little bisexual heart.”
Thailand’s first trans MP was motivated to run for political office in the recent Thai election after her 2010 film Insects in the Backyard was banned for “moral indecency.” After a half-decade fight over the film, it eventually saw release when she agreed to excise a nude scene from it.
Sukkhapisit made LGBTQ issues, including marriage equality and the right of gay couples to adopt, part of her platform. She has said about the country’s civil code, “We hope to amend it to say any two persons can be married. If this can be fixed, it would remove a barrier and open the doors to many other things.”
But Sukkhapisit was not the only LGBTQ individual running for office in the recent Thai election. Pauline Ngarmpring, another trans woman, was Thailand’s first trans individual to run for the office of prime minister, as part of the Machachon Party, a party focused on equal rights and which boasts 20 candidates.
A win for Ngarmpring was a long shot, something she herself acknowledged to the press: “I know having my candidacy is a symbolic gesture. I know I will not be prime minister now. But we hope we will get some seats and represent LGBT people in the country. And perhaps next time, even a transgender woman will have a chance.”
Also running in the recent Thai election was Assadayut Khunviseadpong, better known as Natalia Pliacam, winner of the first season of Drag Race Thailand. She was running to secure a seat for the Bangkok-based Thai Local Power Party.
The drag performer’s campaign slogan was “We Are Heroes,” and on social media he posted statements like this: “Everyone in this country is a hero. We all go through bad times together and get through conflict together. Today we want Thai people to know they are all heroes. We believe we can solve the conflict. Today we have to hold hands and fight the outside world. Time’s up on conflict. We need to fight the ones who cause it. Today we have to come together and unite all Thai power together.”
As the winner of Drag Race Thailand — the first plus-size winner of the Drag Race franchise, it should be noted — Khunviseadpong won a cash prize of just under $16,000 USD.