Vietnam’s ministry of health is finalizing draft amendments to the civil code that will likely acknowledge transgender people for the first time.
Nguyen Huy Quang, head of the ministry’s legal department, said they were still collecting opinions on the issue but he personally preferred to ‘address the fact and solve it.’
‘This is the right to live with their true gender,’ he told a news conference on 14 April.
Legislators will discuss the proposed changes next month.
Quang said Vietnam did not currently allow sex reassignment surgery (SRS), but up to 1,000 of its citizens had done the surgery abroad and were now living in the country.
He said this was not only hugely expensive but also dangerous, as most went to unlicensed clinics.
Even worse, they became ‘invisible’ after returning to Vietnam as they were not legally recognized, Quang said.
He said the gender marker and photos on their identity cards and passports did not match their appearance, which often led to inconvenience and discrimination.
Quang said there were about half a million people Vietnam whose gender did not match the one they were assigned at birth.
‘Transgender people face the risk of shortening their lifespan by 20 years due to the hormone treatments, but they accept this risk because they want to live as they believe they were meant to be,’ he said.
‘This should be considered by society for its determination.’
Quang said if transgender people were recognized, procedures and regulations could be put in place to ensure their safe transition.
The health ministry proposed recognizing transgender people once before in 2005, but it was not approved by the National Assembly.
In 2009, a teacher named Pham Le Quynh Tram from Binh Phuoc province became the first transgender person in Vietnam to have legal recognition, but it was revoked in 2013.