From 1999 until 2022, the monthly wage in Thailand reportedly averaged 10,279 THB. To pay for gender-affirming treatment, you need about 100 times that amount.
Hence, in 2020, Bangkok transgender health centre Tangerine Clinic successfully pitched adding gender-affirming services to Thailand’s healthcare program to the National Health Security Office (NHSO). They have continued to research how to make the coverage more accessible and effective.
If all goes well, the Thai government will become the first country in Southeast Asia to fund LGBTQ+ healthcare services, such as hormone therapy and blood testing.
The cost of embracing your gender identity
Dear Straight People,
For 48-year-old Trin Pattanaweroj, his gender transition added up to a whopping one million THB. He could only pay this off with six years of accumulated savings, along with a hefty severance check.
“With this huge amount of money, other people might as well buy a house or a car. But for me, I have to pay for my gender-affirming care because it’s not covered by the government.”Trin Pattanaweroj
33-year-old Grab motorcyclist Thanadech Jandee experienced a similar financial burden. In order to afford transitioning, Thanadech restricted himself to a single meal a day, with a daily expenditure as little as 100 THB. There were times where he even had to starve himself, in order to ensure his meagre income could pay for his surgery.
We’re left behind, way behind. Even though there are health care services for gender-affirming care, it’s neither affordable nor LGBTQ-friendly. That’s why we came up with an idea that, to solve the problems more sustainably, the government needs to fund our health care.”Kritima “Jemma” Samitpol, supervisor of Tangerine Clinic
A positive future for Thailand’s LGBTQ+ community
In 2022, reformist governor Chadchart Sittipunt announced plans to provide LGBTQ+ healthcare in Bangkok’s public clinics and hospitals. Deputy governor Tavida Kamolvej confirmed that eleven “BKK Pride Clinics” are being planned throughout the city.
As they continue to provide direct services, Tangerine Clinic is also training LGBTQ+ organisations outside of their central location in Chiang Mai, Songkhla and Pattaya. They are working with LGBTQ+ healthcare advocates in Myanmar, The Philippines, Vietnam, Nepal and Sri Lanka in a collaborative effort towards healthcare equality.
I hope that at least Thailand can make hormonal therapy a primary treatment that’s free for everyone. If that can happen first, it’d already be a beautiful beginning.”Trin
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