In an effort to “convert” their children, Thailand parents of LGBT teens are now forcing them to become Theravada Buddhist monks, a branch of the religion that does not recognize LGBT members.
According to Gay Star News, Venerable Shine Waradhammo, a Neo-Buddhist monk, said that gay and transgender people, or katoey, fall outside of the male and female genders that exist within the religion. He said that it is commonly believed in Thailand that “gayness” is retribution for “karma,” or bad deeds, performed in a past life.
Deer, 28, who identifies as female but was born male, was sent to join to the monkhood at age 12 by her father.
“My parents took me to the local temple and forced me to join the monastery against my will,” she said. “The minute my head was shaved I started to cry. I felt naked without my hair, as it was the only escape I had from being a boy.”
When Deer turned 18, she left the monastery and moved to Bangkok, where she lived life as a woman.
Ven Shine said that many young monks struggling with their identity turn to social media as an outlet to express their true selves. If they are acting out, he said sympathetically, it is only because they were forced into a life they never wanted.
“Like all young people,” he said, “they want to express themselves, and sometimes that means wearing makeup or dressing in women's clothes."
Temple abbot Phra Payom Kalayano said monasteries are becoming more progressive, welcoming many LGBT members who choose to become monks for genuine reasons.
“They have just as much right as anyone else to join the monkhood,” Kalayano said.