Major beauty brands are celebrating the Thai trans community

Pantene Thailand recently unveiled its latest marketing campaign under the slogan “See beauty, not gender,” the second major beauty brand in the country to have launched trans-inclusive advertisement this year.

The 70-second Pantene ad shows people in different professions—delivery person, hairdresser, model—inviting the audience to think about what they see: “Do you only see her gender?”

The beauty brand seems to have learnt from the success of its competitor Sunsilk, who issued earlier this year an advertisement featuring the true story of trans beauty queen Rock Kwanlada and her relationship with her hair and her father, winning international appraisal and an award at this year’s Cannes Festival of Creativity.

A transgender beauty contestant has her hair done before a competition on May 8, 2015 in Pattaya, Thailand (Taylor Weidman/Getty)

The individuals’ only apparent commonality is their beautiful, luminous hair, but the ad also wants the audience to admire their personality traits, such as determination, care, strength.

“I see neither female nor male. I see beautiful humans who want to be the best version of themselves,” the audience is told, before the #SeeBeautyNotGender slogan appears on the screen.

The video, uploaded on Facebook on Wednesday, has already received more than 38,000 views and was shared more than 1,000 times as well as receiving enthusiastic comments.

“Thank you for seeing us” one of the comments read.

Trans people have long been part of Thai society, but even as trans visibility in Thailand is higher than in other countries, it has not necessarily increased their acceptance and legal protections. A Gender Equality Law passed that year to tackle discrimination against trans people has been “disappointingly under-used,” according to the Bangkok Post.

Trans individuals in Thailand are also not yet able to change their legal gender marker on official documents, despite the country being a popular destination for those seeking gender affirmation surgery, as Bloomberg reported in 2015.

As for trans-inclusive beauty campaign, however, Thailand is leading the way. Few brands outside of the country have seemed to grasp the opportunity trans inclusivity can present.

Beauty retailer Sephora is among those, having recently launched make-up classes aimed at trans people. Cosmetics company Ipsy instead had to apologise and recall an advertisement made for Pride month featuring a lesbian woman discussing “a spectrum between trans women, between authentic cis-gendered women, and everything in between.”

“We realise we really messed up and that we still have a lot to learn,” the company said at the time.