Thailand's military will stop branding transsexual conscripts as mentally disturbed, and will list them in a new "third category" as neither male nor female, a senior officer said Wednesday.
Thai men are required to report for the draft once they turn 21. Under the current system, transsexuals are rejected as suffering from "a mental disorder."
Gay rights groups complained that the label penalises transsexuals for the rest of their lives, because men are required to prove if they have completed their national service when they apply for jobs or bank loans.
When transsexuals submit their military rejection forms declaring they have a mental disorder, they are automatically disqualified from many jobs and mortgages.
Lieutenant General Somkiat Suthivaiyakij, head of the defence ministry's Reserve Command Department, said the military would immediately stop using the mental disorder label.
The military is trying to find a new word for a "third category" that is neither male nor female, that would not discriminate against transsexuals, he said.
Until the army decides on the new category, transsexual conscripts will be turned away with a form saying they have an illness that cannot be cured within 30 days.
"It's a temporary measure to deal with the problem as the defence and interior ministries work on a permanent solution," Somkiat told AFP.
To qualify for the third category, transsexuals will have to report for the draft for three years in a row to prove they are really trying to live as women, he added.
The annual draft takes place in April, and transsexuals make up less than one percent of the conscripts each year, Somkiat said.