A Look Into Tom Culture, Thailand’s Non-Traditional Gender Group


Sexual orientation and gender are influenced by social constructs of masculinity and femininity, but more people are starting to understand that both are not defined by a person’s biological sex. Because a person is born a woman doesn’t necessarily mean she is confined to society’s expectations of how a woman should look, act and think. As such, gender roles become blurred once we take away the binary perspective of man and woman.

In the 1970’s, when the American term “lesbian” was brought to Thailand, it initially had a negative response and soon the word was associated with negative images of women who love women. Since then, Thailand has grown to be one of the most tolerant countries when it comes to sex and gender. A mini documentary made by Coconut TV explores Thailand’s unique non-traditional gender group–Toms–and the culture surrounding them. By definition, “Toms” (a derivative from “Tomboy”) are biological women who want to appear male and fulfill male gender roles, but don’t identify as male. Unlike America’s mainstream lesbian culture, Toms aren’t only interested in other women, but there’s an added level of complexity with their distinct dress and social code that’s special to Tom culture.

Although Toms have been gaining visibility through media (especially in dramas), their representation hasn’t necessarily meant that Toms have the same legal rights as heterosexual women and men. In fact, the Tom Act magazine has been dedicated to creating a space for Toms and the women who love them. It’s their goal to humanize the Tom community for those who are struggling to understand them. In addition to the magazine, they created the Mr. Tom Act competition in hopes of increasing Thailand’s acceptance of Toms. Watch the mini documentary below as Coconut TV follows two Toms on their way to Mr. Tom Act.



Talented Artist Gender-Bends Disney Characters

Not much is known about the Canada-based artist Sakimi Chan, but one thing is certain: this is one talented artist.

Although Sakimi Chan’s Facebook was only created in January 2014, it has already gathered 124,000 likes and for good reason! According to the Facebook description, Sakimi Chan loves to “draw fantasy, sci-fi and gender bending.”

It seemed only a matter of time that the digital artist took on beloved Disney characters. Sakimi Chan recently gained viral attention for her gender-bending of Ariel, Belle, Pocahontas and various other characters we grew up with.

Check them out below and be sure to support Sakimi Chan’s work through these sites:

GB 1 GB 2 GB 3

GB 4 GB 5 GB 6 GB 7 GB 8




MUST SEE: Filipino Pantene Commercial Calls Attention to Gender Labels in The Workplace

Now its time to applaud Pantene Philippines for its amazing commercial tackling gender discrimination.

We’re no stranger to gender labels. There have been many cases where women were perceived in a negative light while men were praised for doing the exact same thing. Many claim that such judgements are subconscious. Obviously, it would do us all well to question the disparity between these labels and why they exist.

Each scene portrays a man and a woman in the workplace environment. The commercial then highlights the double standards among men and women through labels. A man is simply being the “boss” while a woman in the same position is “bossy.” A man is “persuasive” while a woman is “pushy.” A man well-dressed for work is “neat” but a woman is “vain.” The man is “smooth” while the woman is a “show-off.”

The commercial successfully pulls our attention towards the unfair gender discrimination that often occurs in the workplace. It ends by stating, “Don’t let labels hold you back. Be strong and shine.”

Although this commercial doesn’t feature Pantene in the most obvious way, it certainly features glossy hair. Besides, we’re definitely a fan of the bigger issue that the commercial addresses.

The commercial was only uploaded onto youtube yesterday, but it has already gathered over 3 million views. Check it out for yourself.

Move Over, Barbie: Lego Debuts Its First Female Scientist

We can all let out a collective cheer for one of the newest additions to the Lego family. Professor C. Bodin, according to her name tag, is Lego’s first female scientist. The best part? The model is simply labeled “Scientist” as opposed to “Female Scientist” or “Girl Scientist,” and does not pander to gender stereotypes by, say, making her pink.

This is certainly a step forward for Lego, which has been criticized for focusing too much on their male customers. The sex-ratio for the minifigure models is 4:1 in favor of males, and female minifigures tend to cater to gender stereotypes. (Their “Friends” minifigures are more shapely and have stereotypical “feminine colors and storylines.”)

Though Professor C. Bodin may be the first female scientist in the Lego universe, according to Scientific American, she is not the first female minifigure with a career in science, technology, engineering or math. Lego released a doctor (complete with pigtails) in the 1970s, as well as a female astronaut in the 1990s as a part of its Ice Planet 2002 series.

With Professor C. Bodin, Lego seems to be taking a small step in the right direction. In the meantime, we can look to others who are fighting to ensure equality in children’s toys.