|Jessica, a transgender woman, speaks at a conference discussing the transgender issue. — Photo dantri.com.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — The health ministry is finalising the amendment of the draft Civil Code, which is likely to acknowledge transgender people and their rights for the first time in Viet Nam.
Nguyen Huy Quang, head of the ministry's legal department, said it was necessary to admit that although Viet Nam had banned transgender surgery and refused to recognise transgender people, several of them went abroad for surgery.
Quang said the ministry was still collecting opinions on the alternative of not recognising transsexual people as is done currently, or recognising transgender people and their surgery under the supervision of authorised agencies.
"Personally, I prefer to address the fact and solve it," he said. "This is the right to live with their true gender."
Quang said currently, Viet Nam did not allow transgender activities. However, up to 1,000 people had gone abroad for transgender surgeries. These people are now living in Viet Nam.
This caused huge expenditure for the transgender people and posed potential risks, as most got the surgery done at unlicensed health clinics.
Worse, they became ‘invisible' after returning to Viet Nam as they were not recognised legally. The photos on their legal papers such as identity cards and passports did not match their new appearance, causing them inconvenience, he said.
Figures from the Institute of Environmental Health Studies show about half a million people have unclear gender in Viet Nam. These people feel they are of the opposite sex.
Twenty countries legally recognise transgender activities. In Asia alone, five countries -- India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Thailand -- allow transgender surgery. — VNS