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Thai Trans model deported from Dubai over male passport – New Zealand Herald

Rachaya Noppakaroon was detained for nine hours at the airport and eventually forced onto a flight back to Thailand. Photo / Unsplash
Multimedia Journalist – Travel
A trans-Thai model claims she was rejected at the Dubai border by immigration earlier this month because of her male passport.
After arriving at Dubai International Airport with a team of 14 for a performance at Expo 2020, Rachaya Noppakaroon said she was stopped from entering Dubai.
Noppakaroon was detained for nine hours at the airport and was eventually forced onto a flight back to Thailand due to her passport labelling her gender as male.
The model, who identifies as female, has had gender reassignment surgery but was still forced to wait in a male holding room where she was interrogated by immigration guards.
In the UAE it is illegal to present as anything other than your birth sex. Transgender people are not formally recognised.
According to Noppakaroon, she was asked about the size of her breasts, whether she could have children and if she had “done it all” in regards to surgery.
Noppakaroon later detailed the ordeal in a Facebook post on 16 March. She described it as a “nightmare during which I’m fully awake.” during which she was subjected to intrusive questions for hours.
During this time she tried to show immigration authorities clips of her work but they seemed “more interested in sex,” she wrote.
Eventually, she was taken to a hotel before being escorted to an Emirates flight out of Dubai the next day.
The UAE has long been a challenging place for members of the LGBTQ community to visit. Currently, acts such as gay sex and cross-dressing are punishable with up to 14 years in prison.
As the commercial hub, Dubai is known for being more liberal, however, it isn’t above turning people away at the border.
In 2016, Canadian YouTuber Gigi Gorgeous was denied entry into Dubai on the basis of being transgender.
Getting turned away may be a safer option for some. In 2017, a transgender Singaporean woman and her friend were sentenced to a year in prison after being arrested in Abu Dhabi “for attempting to resemble women.”
By comparison, Thailand is known for its transgender culture and gender-affirming surgery. Yet, there remains one key barrier for individuals like Noppakaroon; while you can change your legal name, transgender people in Thailand cannot change their gender on official documents.
“We don’t blame Dubai employees at all (but we’re angry),” wrote Noppakaroon in the Facebook post.
A post shared by Rachaya Noppakaroon (@mix_rachaya)
Instead, she said the Thai authorities should be responsible for allowing citizens to change their gender on a passport.
“I hope they will see that it’s something that needs to be fixed.”

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