In recent times, our society has witnessed a remarkable surge in embracing gender diversity. This newfound acceptance reflects a profound shift in perspective, as more individuals have come to acknowledge the multifaceted nature of gender. This evolution is particularly evident within the younger generation, whose commitment to equality has fueled a noteworthy upswing in advocating for gender rights over the past fews years. This movement has garnered heightened attention, resonating strongly within the fabric of Thai society.
Despite the vibrant diversity within the LGBTQ+ community, there are still some hurdles to overcome. Only a handful of voices have the chance to authentically share their stories through media outlets. But right now, we have a chance to change that. Today, we’re excited to introduce you to four incredible young individuals who are bravely stepping up to share their personal journeys of gender identity. These stories are a chance to shed light on experiences often overlooked, offering fresh insights and perspectives that can help bridge understanding.
Meet Fahmuii aka Kachingz. Kachingz identifies as pansexual and prefers the pronouns they/them. Their compelling journey unfolds as an author of captivating LGBTQ+ such as “Khun Preuk Reuy Maak” and “Saboo Khing Tua Hom” – both stand as testaments to their commitment to portraying same-sex relationships with authenticity.
"To be honest, I’m not entirely sure I fully understand myself. It’s like I fit the labels society gives me, saying, ‘This is pansexuality,’ or ‘That is non-binary.’ If I think back, it probably started in primary school. My family wasn’t overly traditional or strict, so I felt free to be myself, without the weight of societal expectations. My first LGBTQ+ friends were open about their identities. I leaned towards a tomboyish style and had a crush on a fellow tomboy. That was my first glimpse into the vast spectrum of gender. As I grew, my attractions became varied: towards women, older guys, and gay friends. I realized my feelings didn't fit conventional molds, but I didn’t know why. This led to self-discovery. Amidst the uncertainty, I embraced being bisexual. There were no mentors or teachers guiding me through these concepts and I discovered terms like ‘gender identities’ and ‘sexual orientations’ online. My journey of self-discovery continues – it’s an ongoing exploration.”
Another individual embarking on a journey of self-discovery in terms of gender identity is Homdang. Homdang identifies as “queer” and is currently pursuing studies at Silpakorn University. Their preferred pronouns are they/them.
“Somewhere around the age of 4, I began to notice that I was a bit different from others. My attractions leaned towards the same gender. Back then, I wasn’t living with my mother but under the care of someone else. They often put on Disney cartoons for me, which triggered a longing for long hair, just like Rapunzel’s. At school, I realized that my interests didn't align with girls; I was drawn to boys. This led me to think, ‘Maybe I don’t want to be a boy; maybe I want to be a girl.’ But as time went on, I understood that this yearning for being a girl was just a phase because now that feeling has faded. I’ve reached a point where I don’t rush into discovering my gender identity. Taking it slow seems to be the better approach.”
“I realized I didn’t fit the gender assigned to me from a young age. The labels ‘girl’ or ‘daughter’ didn't feel right, and I struggled to find words to describe myself. Thailand’s lack of gender education left a void, and others filled it with assumptions. I was often called ‘tomboy’ or questioned about my identity. Discovering the term ‘transgender’ during high school introduced me to the LGBTQ+ world. Online interactions led me to many queer, transgender, and non-binary individuals. This propelled my search for self-understanding.”
“Initially, I thought I had to choose between being a transgender man or non-binary. But over time, I realized I could be both – ‘trans masculine’ captures how I transcend gender while not solely identifying as male. Exploring my gender identity was clearer, yet embracing being aromantic asexual proved equally intricate. I encountered these terms around the same time as my transgender journey. It wasn’t until I turned 20 when I embraced those labels as part of my true self.”
Hed Khiew identifies as aromantic asexual non-binary and is partial to the “it” pronoun.
“I thought I was quite sure about my sexuality, even back when I didn’t know the terms. I wasn’t really interested in sex or relationships from an early age. As others started exploring their gender identities, I never felt the need for sexual experiences to define me. Then I encountered the term ‘asexual,’ and it seemed to fit. When it comes to being aromantic, though, it’s a bit more complex. I once thought I might like girls because I felt comfortable around them. Later, I considered being pansexual because I was attracted to personality compatibility rather than gender. But these were just assumptions. In the end, I only found answers when someone I liked came along. It felt different from the general understanding of romantic love. Our feelings didn’t neatly fit into categories like ‘friend’ or ‘more than friend.’ It all boiled down to sharing a unique connection. With the person I liked, I just cherished the moments spent together and wanted to be a great friend to them.”
“As for my non-binary identity, I grew up without really liking or believing in the gender binary concept. I had quite a few female relatives who served as examples that there’s no specific role limited to a particular gender. When I entered a girls’ school, it became even clearer how roles and preferences can be fluid. Many students were dating among themselves – some were tomboys who later dressed as femme. This made me comfortable with diversity by default. In high school, I learned about ‘non-binary,’ which I didn’t fully grasp at first. I questioned why it was necessary to label oneself that way. But eventually, I decided to call myself non-binary because I didn't want gender to define every aspect of me.”
The process of learning and accepting one’s own gender
Fahmuii: Accepting that I’m pansexual was simpler than I thought. At first, I believed I was bisexual, but back then, I had no idea about my true identity. These terms and concepts have only become familiar to me in the past few years. I identified as bisexual for a while until I realized, “Oh, wait, I actually fit more into the pansexual spectrum.” I didn’t experience any negative feelings about my identity at that time, though. Perhaps it was because I didn’t have any personal biases against the LGBTQ+ community. It simply felt new and unfamiliar, as I was discovering myself from a perspective I hadn’t explored before.
Left to right: Parker, Hed Khiew
Parker: Realizing I’m pansexual and aromantic was surprisingly straightforward. It took time to navigate my feelings and differentiate between attractions. Was it sexual or emotional? Love, perhaps? Figuring out romantic versus other kinds of love got a bit tricky. Conversations with myself were really helpful, leading to self-understanding and recognizing my desires. Still, it was a bit puzzling at times since I had to find answers on my own. As I understood myself better, everything got easier. But self-understanding doesn’t require answers to all questions; it’s about being fine with uncertainty. Accepting that I don’t have all the answers is okay. It’s about embracing our uncertainties. The important thing is feeling content with the way I define myself now – it fits. I wish others could adopt this too, without worrying about fitting into labels. And if there’s no label, that’s okay. We don't need strict definitions as long as you’re respectful to others.
Left to right: Parker, Hed Khiew
Hed Khiew: Recently, I’ve been reflecting on myself. There have been moments where I questioned whether I identify as non-binary. It’s because I don’t always relate to being female. I’ve realized that some internalized misogyny from childhood still affects me. I used to like things associated with being female, but adults discouraged it, so I hid it. It felt annoying, like I had to fit a mold. But it’s not just about that; it’s also about rejecting societal norms. I enjoy creating a different image, not what society expects. As I’ve gained more freedom to express myself, I’ve grown more comfortable with my body. I don’t feel the need to prove anything to anyone. Ultimately, I don’t want to be either female or male. I don’t want to conform to one image to escape another. I want to embrace both sides without constraint.
Fahmuii: Coming out is important but not necessary. It’s important in the sense that we want to let the public know about our identity. Just knowing is enough; we don’t really need to know what others think. We simply want clarity and normalcy. At the same time, coming out requires confidence or bravery. Sometimes society pressures us to come out because everyone else is doing it. But you get to choose what you want to do – you can tell when you’re ready. For me, it’s about feeling normal without having to explain. You don’t need others to accept you or prove anything. There’s no rush as long as you’re happy with who you are.
Hmdang: Back in the day, it could have been a big deal, you know? But nowadays, society is starting to embrace diversity in gender and see it as something normal. Maybe it’s not the same here in Thailand, but honestly, it’s all about personal feelings. For me, I don’t think making a big coming out announcement is that important. If I don’t feel like sharing my gender identity, I don’t really have to. It’s all about being comfortable and deciding whether or not I want to open up about it.
Parker: For me, coming out as transgender is quite important. It’s mainly because I’ve planned to make significant changes in my life – from changing my name to undergoing physical transitions. I’ve been on testosterone hormone therapy for about 4 years now, and the changes have been substantial. Even though I might not want to come out to everyone, eventually, they’ll find out. My case is that I’m still living with my family, and luckily, they’re supportive in every way. But to gain their full support, it came down to explaining my true self to them. Like using hormones – I started doing that even before I finished my studies. Of course, I wouldn’t have been able to go through this process without financial support from home, as transitioning at every stage requires money. Unfortunately, I can’t use any welfare benefits for this purpose. Once I came out, I felt more at ease. I could fully be myself without worrying that my family wouldn’t understand. It made our family and home a safe space for me. So, coming out has been very important in this aspect of my life.
At the same time, coming out as aromantic and asexual might not hold much personal importance for us as individuals on a fundamental level. Because for us, this self-definition is about us alone – it doesn’t impact anyone else. But it’s significant in a way that when we step forward and openly declare ourselves as aromantic and asexual, it brings more attention to these identities. This increased visibility helps people who identify within the aromantic or asexual spectrum understand themselves better. This aspect played a role in our decision to create the page AroAce-clusionist: Aromantic & Asexual Exist. Before we knew that there were aromantic and asexual people in the world, we used to think of ourselves as strange and different. As we grew up and realized that what we are is normal, it motivated us to let others who share these identities know that they’re not abnormal either.
Hed Khiew: It doesn’t matter that much to me, because personally, I see it as a kind of ritual for “revealing” or “declaring” oneself. It could be about sharing with a trusted group when you’re ready or indicating a breaking point (like when you can’t hide it anymore). But it’s not universally significant for everyone, as our situations and experiences differ. I, myself, don’t see the need to come out in a formal way, as there hasn’t been an occasion requiring me to do so.
What’s more important than coming out is being out. Even if I don’t have to hide my gender or sexuality, it doesn’t mean I’m completely “out.” Even if I tell others that I’m non-binary, there’s no guarantee they won’t misgender me. Society’s binary thinking is deeply rooted, and our external appearances often conform to society’s definitions of male and female. I don’t have to face life-threatening situations or explicit discrimination for being open, but there’s still a feeling that some view me as reproductive organs walking around. Even if I’m okay with being myself, if the law, education system, and healthcare don’t accept my gender identity, the problem persists. So, I believe that a comfortable life for people with diverse gender identities depends on many factors, not just coming out. However, coming out remains an essential step for many with diverse gender identities, providing necessary safe spaces to express themselves comfortably.”
Fahmuii: Pansexual is real. We have our own identity. We can love anyone regardless of their gender. It’s not about whether someone is male, female, tomboy, lesbian, gay, transgender, or anything else. We can love whoever we want. It doesn’t mean we’re only focused on sexuality, though. It’s okay if others don’t understand us. Just respect us as much as you respect yourself, that’s enough.
Homdang: Seeing me as a human being is enough. If someone asks about my gender, I would say that I can’t answer right now. That i'm still in a phase of self-discovery, which is completely normal. Ultimately, I want them to see me as just an ordinary human being. Because if viewed through a gender lens, they might just see me as male or female. I’d rather have them see me as a human first and foremost, nothing more than that.
Parker: Usually, when people talk about asexuality, they might assume it’s just about not wanting to have sex with anyone or lacking sexual feelings. I mean, there might be some asexual individuals like that, but that’s not the defining characteristic of asexuality. Asexuality is a group of people who don’t experience a strong sexual attraction to anyone or may experience it infrequently. Many asexual individuals choose not to have any sexual involvement, but that doesn’t mean asexuality excludes the possibility of having sex.
When people say they’re aromantic, others might feel sorry for them, assuming they lack romantic love for anyone. It’s as if they pity us for not experiencing romantic relationships like other teenagers, or they worry we’ll feel lonely. Why would not having a romantic relationship mean we should be pitied? This is who we are, our preferences. If anyone should be pitied, it’s for society not understanding our identities.
Hed Khiew: It seems like society still struggles to fully accept asexuality and aromanticism alongside other sexual orientations. Maybe that’s because these aspects of me often get overlooked, and I was never really taught to think about my own attractions. It’s like society links love, sex, and family together so tightly that people assume feeling romantic love and sexual attraction is a basic part of life. But those of us who don't fit into that mold are often seen as unusual, even though love and sex don’t define me completely.
If I don’t see same-sex love (and other non-traditional orientations) as weird, then I should also see not feeling romantic attraction or not having a partner as equally normal. The key is that when I define who I am, it’s not a quick answer and it’s not something that has to change the minute my feelings do. Questioning asexuality shouldn’t only happen when my sexual desires seem to disappear, because it’s not tied to that.