Thai Airline Now Boasts Transsexual Flight Attendants

Illustration for article titled Thai Airline Now Boasts Transsexual Flight Attendants

Thailand's ironically-named airline P.C. Air claims it's the first in the world to hire openly transsexual flight attendants. When the airline begins flying Asian routes in April, four transsexual people will be among the 30-person cabin crew, Forbes reports.

Though Thailand is tolerant of transvestites and transsexuals, who are known as "katoeys" or "ladyboys," they often have difficulty finding jobs outside of the entertainment and beauty industries. Company president Peter Chan, a former flight attendant himself, says, "I think it's time for the Thai society to be more open and support freedom of all sexes."

However, the airline is still putting pressure on the new hires to conform to certain stereotypes, and perfecting their feminine persona is part of the job requirements. The transsexual employees have been placed with natural-born women for training, but they also receive special instruction. Chan says of the program, "For ladyboys, we have to spend more than one day with them to make sure they can keep their feminine personalities. Their voices and their postures must be naturally feminine and they must be very patient."


23-year-old Dissanai Chitpraphachin says the job is a dream come true, but suggests the new flight attendants hope they won't be defined by their gender. "I simply want everyone to open up their hearts and judge us by our work, not because of our sex," says Dissanai.

Thai Airline Trains Transsexual Flight Attendants [Forbes]

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What the spokesperson is politely not mentioning is that right now one of the most common career avenues for kathoey is the sex industry, as it's one of the very few open to them. Sure, Thai society is tolerant up to a point, but hiring a kathoey to be a bank manager or a lawyer? Not happening, as of now. So honestly this really is a big step forward in many ways. However, it's also sort of an indication that flight attendent is still very much seen as a display profession in Thailand, so in another way it's the same old same old. In any case, given how limited career options currently are for kathoey, even one more field opening up is a good thing. (Used to live in Thailand)