PM to decide if Vietnam will annul first transgender recognition

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Vietnam's Ministry of Justice has asked the southern province of Binh Phuoc to wait for the Prime Minister's instruction before revoking its earlier decision to recognize the female identity of a local transgender person.

The ministry asked the province to let the ministry and the Health Ministry consult the Prime Minister regarding the situation, news website VnExpress reported Thursday.

Pham Le Quynh Tram, a transsexual who was born a man and now self-identifies as a woman, said earlier she would be willing to receive a medical test to confirm her gender and would file a lawsuit against the revocation if necessary.

Last month the justice ministry asked Binh Phuoc Justice Department to look into the case, pointing out that it flouted a law prohibiting gender reassignment in cases where the sexual organs are fully developed.

The department then asked the provincial People's Committee to annul the decision made by the Chon Thanh District government in 2009 to recognize Tram as female, and punish officials in charge.

Trinh Dinh Khan, the district vice chairman, had signed off on the decision to recognize Tram's new gender and new name, following her surgery in Thailand, making her the first transgender person to be officially recognized in Vietnam.

The 39-year-old, who was born Pham Van Hiep, said the past four years were "the best of my life" and that she was shocked at the prospects of the end to this newfound bliss.

Tram said she was intersexual and had to struggle to hide it, though people still found out and subjected her to discrimination.

At puberty her breasts began to develop and she had to hide them by eating at lot so she could blame weight gain. "I went from 40 to 84 kilograms."

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She did well at school but dropped of college to pursue the dream of becoming a woman, instructing high-school graduates in training courses in preparation for university entrance exams.

Due to her ambiguous gender, she was only able to attract poor students by charging low fees. But her students' success popularized her class and she was eventually able to earn enough to go to Thailand for gender reassignment surgery, she told Thanh Nien.

A 2008 survey by the Ministry of Health found that around 7,000 people in Vietnam were unclear about their gender identity.

Many of them have tried to become official residents in Chon Thanh District in the hopes that officials there would recognize their secondary gender, but were unsuccessful.

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