You have probably heard about the new law which got passed in Vietnam, which allows people who have had gender reassignment surgery to register under their new gender.
For the people of Vietnam, this was a huge moment and one of great joy.
When Le Anh Phong heard about the news, she was so happy that she burst into tears: “Then I called my mother and my older sister, who have been my biggest supporters, and they cried too.”
Ms Phong was among some 100 people from the LGBT community who held a small but joyful rally in central Honoi to celebrate, saying they had been waiting for this “for such a long time.”
One of the women, Born Le Quoc Phong, who wants to change her middle name to “Ahh” (meaning sunray) says that she always knew she was a girl: “I wanted to wear pretty clothes and I liked boys and at school I was taunted badly for that. My parents were also in denial for a long time.”
It was a long battle for Phong, but she was finally accepted by her friends and family and got the support she needed in order to become her true self.
“I went to Thailand for a sex change operation that lasted four painful hours in March 2013. I came back to Vietnam as a pretty girl, exactly how I imagined myself. But in [identity] papers, up to now, I am still Le Quoc Phong, male”.
Director of ICS Vietnam, which is an LGBT awareness and support organisation, Tran Khac Tung had this to say: “This is an important and most welcomed first step,” then added that the move was “such a miracle that the issue of transgender people’s rights was brought before the busy National Assembly for discussion.”
“I have to give credit to the transgender community in Vietnam, their determination, their solidarity. They have changed the whole society’s perception about transgender people. We still have to wait for the legal guidance of how to apply the law in accordance with international practice and the country’s traditions, as the law stipulates.”
For those of you wondering, this is what the new law entails:
– It allows those who have undergone gender reassignment surgery to register with the government under their new genders
– The law comes into effect on 1 January 2017, and officials are in the meantime working out the details.
– It is hoped that the law would allow Vietnamese hospitals to conduct gender reassignment surgeries for anyone.
– Currently only those without complete sex organs or those born with both female and male sex organs can have gender assignment and genital reconstruction surgery.
However, at the moment only people who have undergone gender reassignment procedures are subject to the new law. Those who have yet to undergo gender reassignment, or those who cannot afford it, can’t benefit from the new legislation.