Thailand’s first transgender candidate for Prime Minister has revealed her decades long inner struggle ahead of the country’s elections.
Pauline Ngarmpring, 52, was born a man and had two children but spent years in emotional turmoil as she hid her true identity – visiting countless therapists and doctors as she battled her demons.
The millionaire sports businessman finally plucked up the courage to have a sex change three years in the United States before returning home and entering politics to improve LGBT rights.
Pauline is now going head-to-head General Prayut Chan-o-cha when the country votes on Sunday March 24 for the first time in almost a decade.
The politician – who has already helped to raise awareness for her country’s seven million LGBT people – said her manifesto is based on gender equality.
She said: ‘’I was always asked to join the politics since I was a man but at that time I was still not clear in my mind who I was. And how could you make a change to the country when you didn’t even know yourself?’’
Born and raised as a boy, named Pinit Ngarmpring, she was always interested in politics and sports. As Pinit, she enjoyed playing football and boxing since since a child, aspiring to be ‘’a good and strong man’’.
Pinit founded the influential football fan association and lead a successful campaign o depose the corrupt president of Football Association of Thailand.
But the CEO was never happy with her and was ‘’tortured inside’’ while hiding her true desire of becoming a woman.
Pauline said: “I grew up in a conservative family who taught me to be a tough man in order to take care of women, so I tried to do everything men do but it could not change who I really was inside.
“I woke up and prayed everyday that I wanted to be a woman. I went to many therapists but my desire had never gone for more than 40 years and it killed me.”
With the support of her family and children, Pauline eventually went for gender reassignment surgery in the United States three years ago.
Now using her preferred name of Pauline, she returned to Bangkok and became involved in politics, joining the Mahachon Party and championing the rights of LGBT for the general election on March 24.
By becoming a prime minister candidate, Pauline wants her nomination to bring hope to the marginalized and open up political space for future generations of LGBT people.
Pauline said: ‘’I’m the best candidate to represent the rights of Thailand’s LGBT people. If I become the prime minister, I will bring gender equality for the country.’’
The influential transgender person – the first to be involved in mainstream Thai politics – is set to make gains for her party, but in a country where democracy has been decimated by corruption, splinted parties and military rule, it’s not clear who will win.
Pauline added: “I have no doubt in my mind and I am ready to change the country. But it depends on the society if they trust me to do the work or not.
‘’But I can guarantee them that this is the same person they once considered as a dedicated businessman and the same person who led the protest against the unrighteousness.’’