I just fished a documentary about the lives of LGBT people in China (and Hong Kong). One person from this documentary happened to be an elite in Hong Kong and he underwent sex reassignment surgery at a well-known clinic in Bangkok. She was very happy with the results and she relocated to Bangkok for however long, I don't know. But what really got me thinking is the fact that she thought Thailand is more open to LGBT people. I wouldn't say Thailand is really open. I mean it is definitely more open than, say, China or conservative societies. Thailand is open in a sense that they're seen in the media as a comic relief and we know they exist. But they still put LGBT inside a box. Let me explain.
Male to Female Transgender
Practical-wise they're more or less accepted unless you're marrying one. Then it gets complicated because
Thailand does not allow changing sex designation on birth certificate
I know it's a shocker. But it's true. A lot of (biologically) same sex couples can't get married for this reason. Why? You can't marry someone who has the same gender as you. So much for being open™. Also,
Only feminine-masculine gay relationship exists
As in one person in a gay relationship has to be feminine and the other masculine. For example, a butch and lipstick lesbian. A butch-butch or lipstick-lipstick? Nuh-uh that's not how lesbian works in Thailand. And the worst offender is:
You can't be bisexual. You have to pick one.
This happened to a friend of mine - she was working with a few people and she looks butch, so this happened:
Them: What's your preference?
Her: Both (actually she's pansexual but for the sake of simplicity....)
Them: Nuh-uh you gotta pick one.
Her: getting uneasy and prepares to leave
So much for being LGBT friendly™.
Updated 24 Sep, 2017
I asked a Thai gay man what he thinks. This is his reply:
Thailand is not really open for LGBT. For example, same-sex marriage is not kosher. Businesses and law are not friendly to them since the law doesn't recognize the union. Cross-dressing (as in MtF) will make it harder to land a job because no one will employ them. Relationship-wise, gay couples who are open about it are rare. Thais pay a lot of attention to looks, especially among gay men - as in hooking up just for sex, not genuine relationship. Another elephant in the room is bisexuality, because not a lot of Thais truly understand what it means. They don't accept bisexuals because they think it's just a guy who likes both and he kinda lies to his girlfriend that he likes her (seeing he also likes men to so it must be true that he can't really love women). Although Thais are more acceptable with female bisexual.