Nguyen Huy Quang, director of the Legal Department under the Ministry of Health, spoke to the newspaper Suc Khoe & Doi song (Health and Life) on Viet Nam's gender reassignment surgery policy.
Does Viet Nam have the capacity to perform gender reassignment surgery?
When we talk about this issue, we should look at two different perspectives.
Under the 2005 Civil Code, people who were born with deformed sex organs can ask a medical professional to reconstruct their genital organs.
Late last month, the Viet Nam National Assembly unanimously passed a law allowing people to achieve harmony of their minds and bodies through gender reassignment surgery, which will take effect in 2017 as part of the 2005 Civil Code.
Technically speaking, doctors in both internal and surgical medicine departments can perform gender reassignment surgery.
Recent amendments to the 2005 Civil Code have great significance, because those who have undergone transgender reassignment surgery will be allowed to register under their new gender with their personal rights protected accordingly.
When will these amendments take effect?
At the first meeting of the new National Assembly legislature, the 13th legislature, lawmakers will work out an agenda for the lawmaking program. Of course, one of the laws they will discuss is about the compilation of the Law on Transfer Gender. When that law is enacted, the new amendment to the 2005 Civil Code will allow people to undergo gender reassignment surgery.
Do you mean that the new law will govern who can undergo gender reassignment surgery?
During their discussion in the November meeting, National Assembly deputies agreed on the right of people to undergo gender reassignment surgery. They spent a lot of time discussing the required process for a gender change surgery, including the idea that people desiring to have a gender reassignment would need some time to experience life as that new gender. For example, a man who wants to become a woman, or vice versa, will be given one to two years to live as a woman/man. If after that period, he/she feels happy, they will be given gender reassignment surgery.
Of course, during the course of medical intervention for their gender reassignment, he/she must strictly follow doctors' recommendations and be placed under medical supervision.
Last but not least, after their successful gender reassignment, he/she will be granted a certificate of their new gender. The certificate will allow him/her to register under their new gender with their personal rights protected accordingly.
Do you know how many countries in the world have allowed gender reassignment surgery?
By 2014, more than 30 countries had allowed gender reassignment surgery. In Asia alone, there are six countries, including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran and Thailand. I think Viet Nam will soon become the 6th country in Asia and the 2nd in Southeast Asia.
At present, Thailand and Iran have become a major centre for performing gender reassignment surgeries. The Iranian government subsidises 50 per cent of gender reassignment surgeries. Meanwhile, a beauty contest for transgender people has become an annual event in Thailand. The contest has drawn much attention from the public and it is similar to the Miss Tiffany's Universe. — VNS