Tom / Trans / Thai (2011)
Country of Production: Thailand
Duration: 17 minutes
Language: English, Thai Subtitles
Tom / Trans / Thai is a short experimental film that approaches the silence around female-to-male (FTM) transgender identity in the Thai context by addressing tom and trans-masculine identities in Thai and Thai American communities and the transnational relationships between gender and language. Interviews conducted with Thai and Thai American toms and trans-masculine people are channeled through the moving body in an effort to locate ourselves in the Thai landscape and create a new language for our kind of being.
The film “Tom / Trans / Thai” has been supported by ComPeung as part of their contribution ‘ComPeung featuring Jai Arun Ravine’ for exhibition ‘Chiang Mai Now’ @ Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, April – June 2011. ComPeung is the first non-governmental artist-in-residence program in Thailand. Since 2005 ComPeung aspires to provide a platform for explorations and questioning in the arts.
To acquire a DVD of the film, or to inquire about booking a film screening and/or presentation, please email eucalyptusraven [AT] gmail [DOT] com
Public Film Screenings and Presentations:
Under New Management: Video Store
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
July 30 – September 7, 2013
CAAMFest 2013 | Queer Convergence
San Francisco, CA
March 17 and 20, 2013
Past Present | Future Imperatives: Queer Space Time
Sabina Lee Gallery
Los Angeles, CA
February 25 – March 24, 2012
Film Screening and Artist Talk
February 22, 2012
My People Film Series Shorts Program
November 8, 2011
Dirtstar: Take Root Closing Performance
Tenderloin National Forest, San Francisco
June 19, 2011
Wednesday April 27, 2011
5:00 – 6:00 PM
Pentecost Building, Room 317
Payap University, Mae Kao Campus
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Informal Northern Thai Group meeting
Tuesday April 19, 2011
138, Charoen Prathet Road, opposite Wat Chaimongkhon
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai Now! exhibition
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
April 7 – June 19, 2011
Tom / Trans / Thai explores the intersections between tom identity, trans-masculinity and Thai identity in a transnational context through writing and dance. It opens a door within Thai discourse, in the hope that a conversation between tom and female-to-male (FTM) transgender identity can begin.
I interviewed toms and trans-masculine Thais living in Chiang Mai, Bangkok and the US. I look at the ways gender is culturally and linguistically constructed and communicated in Thailand and the US and how that affects toms and Thai trans-masculine people, and how the presence of “tom” and “trans” influence each other.
I found that the demand to gender oneself in the Thai language, under the guise of politeness and respectability, often silences us and renders invisible and illegible our inhabitations of queerness and masculinity. Positive information around the possibility of FTM transgender expression within Thailand is nearly nonexistent and available only via the internet, which isolates Thai trans men, sometimes even from toms, leaving them with the painful task of finding a language to explain who they are.
Thai Americans often felt that their gender or gender non-conforming presentation excluded them from Thainess, and that being Thai (and having Thai mothers) conflated Thainess with femininity, rendering their transition as a transition away from Thainess. Many toms had pride in being both Thai and tom without separation, although their ethnicity and gender came into question when they traveled outside Thailand, without the presence of tom or queer community.
An introduction to the subject of Thai masculine gender expression and the research I have gathered so far, I attempt to visually represent a gender non-conforming experience that exists outside gender binaries, include tom identity within an archive of Thai trans-masculinity and create a language for our kind of being.
Related Resource Listing: A compilation of research articles, media and organizations concerning trans and queer Thai and Thai American communities.
Critical Essay: “Tom/Gay, Trans/Queer: Mixed Translations Across Thai and Thai American Trans-Masculinities”
A very important component of this project is the companion critical essay, which details information gathered in my interviews and research. As yet unpublished, a draft of this essay is available upon request and may be used in the classroom. An excerpt was published at Wild Gender (March 25, 2013).