Transgender student provocateur unhappy with media’s use of ‘Mr’

Thammasat University’s student activist, Sarun “Aum Neko” Chuichai, who earned attention in both Thai and international media by replacing the Thai national flag with a black flag at the university’s Rangsit campus, expressed her unhappiness on Facebook for the Bangkok Post’s decision to refer to her as “Mr. Saran.”

As an English-language publication, we might say this is a tricky subject since the English pronouns are lavishly used. Besides, we don’t want our readers to get any ideas from the sexy photos of Saran that we run.

“I strongly condemn the action of Bangkok Post publication department, which intends to discriminate me as a transgender,” she wrote. “They always know and write down that Saran is the transgender. However, they try to emphasize my title name as Mr. every time they cite my name (Sarun). I’ve read many articles in other publications both in English and German. They never do like this before. As much as possible, they do cite the title name just in the first time not every time or the next time they would use the personal pronoun as usual. How about Bangkok Post?”

After her complaint, the newspaper changed references to refer to her as requested.

As for names and genders, Coconuts Bangkok follows the international standards set forth by the Associated Press, which states: “Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.”

Saran supporters who joined the conversation seem to agree the subject is controversial as one commenter suggested each transgendered person has a different view about how they would want to present themselves as a woman or a proud transgender.

“What would you want them to call you? This is personal and discreet. I personally refer to my transgendered friend as ‘She’ or ‘Miss’. You have to be clear about how you want the society to view you and accept you, as a woman or a transgender. Some ladyboys want people to look at them as transgendered people, a special gender that is not female.”

Since September, Saran, who also goes by the name “Aum Neko,” has been the center of attention among Thammasat students as she ran a racy anti-uniform ads and made an appearance in the university’s cafeteria in a bikini.

Recently, the student activist attempted to replace the national flag to protest against the university’s rector Somkid Lertpaithoon for siding with anti-government protesters as she feels his actions might reflect the view of Thammasat University, which is known for its democratic and liberal value.

Her provocative behavior has caused over 3,000 Thammasat students to have signed a petition requesting the institute to expel Saran.

The petition fell into a controversy among the supports of Saran, as they claim Thammasat cannot punish Saran for acting out what they might consider as “inappropriate.”

“What rule states Thammasat can punish her for acting inappropriate? They can’t suspend or expel her for being inappropriate,” Bangna Taruea commented.

Saran Chuichai will stand in front of the student court soon to fight for her stay at the university. If found guilty, the student will cause punishment as severe as one-year suspension.

Photo: Aum Neko


Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect that Bangkok Post editors changed a story after the student’s complaint to reflect her request.

Reader Interactions


  1. Seriously? You/ she expects international standard journalism in a Thailand English-language daily? That would be the same as expecting unbiased political coverage.

    Content is written to appeal to the mental development level of their readers such as Mrs Warren. Oops, did I get the honorific wrong? What a totally retarded comment. Think that lobotomy has already been performed Jennifer.

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