A few days ago, I, along with a few other students, went to the Miss Healthy Thailand 2014 pageant. This pageant featured around 20 participants competing at the chance to win Miss Healthy Thailand 2014, for a cash prize and also to be the official promoter of a certain brand of condoms all to promote health. Furthermore, these contestants are all transgender.
Firstly, I would like to point out that the participants are not phet thi sam, or alternately (and pejoratively) called ladyboys and kathoeys, as that is a term in Thailand that means "third gender" and still may identify as male. What I believe the contestants identified as are sao praphet song, which means that, although their biological sex is male, they identify as females.
Secondly, Thailand is shown to be one of the most accepting countries of not only transgender individuals, but also virtually the entire LGBTQI community. It is much more common to see transgender and intersex individuals here freely acting out their gender roles instead of being pressured and stigmatized into conforming to the dominant gender roles that are displayed in our heteronormative society in America.
Thirdly, Thailand is a relatively conservative society. That means there's no PDA, there's little sex education, etc. What I thought was fantastic and really progressive about the Miss Healthy Thailand pageant was that it promotes, not only safe sex, but sex education as well.
Thailand is vastly different from the States, and like any country it has its strengths and its flaws. I was extremely impressed and happy to see how accepting the people of Thailand are about different gender identities and can only hope for that progression one day in the America.