Thai airline recruits transgender flight attendants

Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:53pm EST
 
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By Jutarat Skulpichetrat

BANGKOK (Reuters Life!) - A new Thai airline is hiring transsexual ladyboys as flight attendants, aiming at a unique identity to set itself apart from competitors as it sets out for the skies.

Known as "katoeys" or "ladyboys," transgenders and transsexuals have greater visibility in Thailand than in many other nations, holding mainstream jobs in a variety of fields. They are especially common in cosmetics shops or health stores, which almost always have a ladyboy shop assistant.

PC Air, a charter airline set to start operations on Asian routes in April, originally planned only to hire male and female flight attendants. But it changed its mind after receiving more than 100 job applications from transvestites and transsexuals.

Four were chosen, along with 19 female and 7 male flight attendants.

"When I knew that I got this job, I burst into tears because I'm very happy," said 24-year-old Chayathisa Nakmai.

"I had sent many applications to different airlines."

The airline said that the qualifications for the ladyboy flight attendants were the same as for female flight attendants, with the additional provisos that they be like women in how they walk and talk, and have a feminine voice and the right attitude.

Though there is very little discrimination against ladyboys in Thailand, they are not officially recognized as women and their identification cards will always say "male."   Continued...

 
<p>An instructor applies make-up foundation on the face a transsexual flight attendant Dissanai Chitpraphachin, 24, (L) during a make-up training session at PC Air office in Bangkok February 9, 2011. A newly formed Thai airline PC Air wants to make a different from their competitors by hiring the transsexual flight attendants. Be pretty and be feminine are the qualification the ladyboys should have to join a new charter airline that will begin the operation in early April. The airline has recruited four ladyboys, 19 female and seven male but said they will need to employ more of transsexual on their flights in the future. REUTERS/CHaiwat Subprasom</p>