Health official calls for law change to recognize transgenders

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A play about transgender people performed at Ho Chi Minh City's Nguyen Thi Dieu High School on March 30. Photo: Minh Hung A play about transgender people performed at Ho Chi Minh City's Nguyen Thi Dieu High School on March 30. Photo: Minh Hung

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A senior health ministry official has urged for recognition of transgender people in the Civil Code, which will open the way for legalizing sex reassignment surgery in Vietnam.
Nguyen Huy Quang, director of the Legal Department under the Ministry of Health, told the media Thursday that he hopes legislators will support the move when they discuss the draft amendments to the Civil Code at a plenary meeting in Hanoi next month.
“We've got to see the reality... Even when [sex reassignment surgery] is not allowed, [transgender people] still go abroad for it,” Quang said.
About 500,000 people in Vietnam own internal gender identity that does not match the sex their assigned gender, Quang said.
About 1,000 of them have had sexual reassignment surgeries abroad, according to Quang.
“Personally, I favor the option of recognizing them… This is also the issue of living with real gender identity,” he said.
Local media have reported many people facing multiple difficulties after undergoing sexual reassignment surgery abroad because their gender remains unchanged in identity papers back in Vietnam.
 
Transgenders "suffer from many disadvantages in life," and even face the risk of shortening their life by 20 years due to hormones used as part of sexual reassignment, but "they still want to live with their real gender identity,” Quang said.
In 2005, a proposal for recognition of transgender people made by the health ministry was rejected by lawmakers.
According to Quang, 20 of 200 countries and territories worldwide recognize transgender people, including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Thailand in Asia.
In 2012, a teacher in Binh Phuoc became the first Vietnamese person ever who had gender reassigned in identity paper as from male to female.
However, the decision made by local authority was revoked, after many in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) rushed to Binh Duong to apply for it, prompting the government to declare that the decision was illegal.

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