The University Council approved Thammasat University‘s regulation concerning student dress code and uniforms for 2021, whereby additions were made to Clause 9 concerning dressing in student uniforms to allow students to dress according to either their birth sex or gender identity.
“We are communicating to society that we are giving importance to non-discrimination and think that this should be made into law because we want equal protection for everyone, regardless of gender, and we hope that this will be a beginning that communicates to society that this issue should be made normal, that anybody should be able to dress however they want and that their decisions need to be respected for so long as they abide by the same rules and that is by dressing politely and appropriately for their settings,” Associate Professor Dr Adisorn Chansuk said.
Dr Adisorn Chansuk said that previous rules were just practice guidelines and not strictly regulations. As they become regulations and are published in the Royal Government Gazette pursuant to the Act for the university, these regulations will become law within the university, which means everyone will be required to comply.
As for previous content, the rules did not mention anything about permitting students to dress according to their genders. This issue was brought up last year when an announcement of the chancellor gave permission to students to act according to their gender identities and to be able to take their graduation pictures wearing their graduation gowns.
This was last year, but before that, there were students who dressed according to their gender identities. This is because the actual dress codes never required them to only dress according to their sex.
However, because there were no specifications, if students wanted to dress a certain way, it was up to them but their teachers could still require them to dress according to their birth sex. Before the announcement of the chancellor made last year granting permission, if a student wanted to cross-dress, the student would have to go and ask for a hospital to issue a certificate for the student. It was a way of asking them to seek a certification process.
So, this became an issue that depended only on the chancellor’s announcement. Whenever executives change, announcements might be made to require students to go back to dressing according to their birth genders (depending on management policies).
However, the upgrading of rules to legal regulations, regardless of which executives are in charge, means that students’ right to express themselves and to dress freely according to their intentions will remain protected.
As for Thammasat University’s project to support and engage in the issue of gender equality, there are large numbers of students currently pushing on this issue. For example, the TU Changemaker project, which is supported by UN Women, last year organized an event about gender equality to raise awareness on this issue within and outside the university. Students also gave away sanitary napkins for free to female university students. All of these activities are related to promoting gender equality, which is something the university has always prioritized.