Temple turmoil: Thai trans troupe takes abbot to court over image mockery

Photo via Facebook/ วิทยา หลวงแอร์ ผิวงาม

Seven Thai transgender dancers filed a lawsuit against the abbot of Sophon Dhammaram Temple in the Isaan province of Surin for insulting them by sharing their pictures and making fun of their appearance.

The abbot, Wittaya Sophonwanno, on March 11, shared a picture of seven transwomen performing a traditional Thai dance in angel costumes on his Facebook account. In the caption, he poked fun at them.

“If angels look like this, I am willing to live in hell forever…”

The post gained attention when one of the transgender dancers shared it on her Facebook, leading to complaints from her followers and the other six dancers in the picture. One of the dancers made her feelings known.

“This is really disrespectful. All the dancers have their dignity, and we performed this with our hearts. Please talk about us appropriately. You are a monk, and even an abbot of the temple, you should be more thoughtful.”

The transgender dancers demanded an apology from the abbot and visited the temple yesterday, March 12 to pursue justice. Despite removing the post, the abbot did not extend an apology to the transwomen.

Today, the transgender dancers complained about the abbot at Mueang Surin Police Station and subsequently visited the temple to meet with the abbot, who was not in attendance.

Abbot apology

In an interview with Amarin TV, a 27 year old transwoman named Athit explained that she and friends performed a Thai dance at the funeral ceremony of a respected Thai monk for free, as requested by the ceremony host.

Athit went on to explain that the abbot posted their picture and insulted them after the funeral ended but she and her friend ignored it. The abbot proceeded to repost a picture of the transgender group. Recognising the need to address the matter and provide the monk with a rationale, they opted to take legal action against him.

Athit clarified that they had no personal acquaintance with the abbot and had never previously encountered conflicts with him. She aimed to highlight his misconduct, particularly among the residents who held him in high regard.

Athit conveyed a message to the monk, emphasising that while bullying may seem amusing to him, it is distressing for the victims.

“This monk teaches others how to do good deeds, but he did not learn it for himself. If he cannot understand his own lesson, he should stop lying to locals.”

The story went viral on Thai social media putting pressure on the abbot. He eventually came forward to issue an apology to the transwomen. He said he only intended to tease the transgender group and apologised if they felt offended.

In response to the incident, the Surin Provincial Buddhism Office warned the abbot, urging him to refrain from posting inappropriate pictures or messages on his Facebook account and to be mindful of his gestures, speech, and thoughts as he is a Buddhist monk.

Crime NewsThailand News

Petch Petpailin

Petpailin, or Petch, is a Thai translator and writer for The Thaiger who focuses on translating breakingThai news stories into English. With a background in field journalism, Petch brings several years of experience to the English News desk at The Thaiger. Before joining The Thaiger, Petch worked as a content writer for several known blogging sites in Bangkok, including Happio and The Smart Local. Her articles have been syndicated by many big publishers in Thailand and internationally, including the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Bangkok Post. She is a news writer who stops reading news on the weekends to spend more time cafe hopping and petting dwarf shrimp! But during office hours, you can find Petch on LinkedIn and you can reach her by email at petch@thethaiger.com.

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