A draft for Vietnam’s Transgender Law is calling for people to be entitled to maternity benefits and the right to marry according to their gender.
Trans men who either carry or give birth to babies would be entitled to maternity benefits in accordance with laws on labor and social insurance, while transgender people would be entitled to the right to marry in accordance with their gender, as well as any other right per the law and the Constitution, once they have been acknowledged as transgender, experts told a conference regarding the Transgender Law draft last week.
The draft also stated that a transgender person does not need to undergo medical intervention to be recognized as trans, and that medical interventions are entirely voluntary.
“Besides their rights for voluntary medical intervention, transgender people do not have to undergo sterilization after genital surgeries, except if they want to,” said Pham Thi Hao from the legal department of the Ministry of Health.
According to data from the health ministry, there are around 480,000 transgender people in Vietnam, but actual numbers are much higher due to stigma. Transgender people often face discrimination, prejudice and bias from society, with one in every three transgender people facing such issues within the past 12 months.
A total 40% of transgender respondents to a health ministry survey said they tried to commit suicide. Their fear of discrimination also prevents them from seeking out healthcare information and services. Around 18% said they have either HIV or syphilis, 4% never got tested for HIV, and 42% said they are at high risk of depression.
Nguyen Thi Kim Thuy, deputy head of the National Assembly’s Committee of Social Affairs, said Vietnam has made much progress in eliminating discrimination against the LGBT community. For example, in 2015, amendments to the law recognized the right for people to change their genders. However, exactly who would be allowed to change their genders, or which medical facility is approved to make that change, as well as the process of changing genders and related procedures… have not been clearly defined by law, she added.
“As such, the recognition of transgender people has not been applied practically in real life,” Thuy said, adding that there must be improvements to the legal environment to allow transgender people easier access to social, education and healthcare services, among others.
In Vietnam, few transgender people are recognized by law. To undergo gender changes, they have to attend certain hospitals for diagnosis and confirmation that they have certain biological features, like males with ovaries. These people would be counseled by doctors to choose their genders, and then undergo surgeries for gender change. Following a successful gender change and with the doctor’s confirmation, transgender people can undergo procedures to change their personal information on their documents.
Most transgender people in Vietnam would go to another country, for example Thailand, for gender changes. It means once they return to Vietnam, despite the changes to their genders and appearances, they cannot change their personal data.
Many countries around the world have already introduced transgender laws.
Luong Oanh, a program officer from U.N. Women in Vietnam, said Pakistan has dismissed medical checks as a requirement to recognize one’s legal gender. Norway dismissed both neurological and psychological diagnoses to recognize one’s gender, she added.
The Transgender Law draft would continue to be adjusted so it could be presented before the National Assembly’s Standing Committee within this year.
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