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Nguyen Thai Tai - Nguyen Thai Tai, o primeiro caso de redesignação sexual no Vietnam

Gender change challenges traditional culture

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Nguyen Thai Tai, the first case of gender reassignment in Vietnam.

VietNamNet -


Gender reassignment surgery is easy for modern medicine, but the new life it brings remains a problem for Vietnamese living in a society with traditional views on sexual identity.

Sex changes are still forbidden in many countries, including Vietnam. Mr T, born in 1968 in My Tho Province, sought assistance for 20 years to 'become a woman'. At puberty, T realised that he was truly a woman, but his family told him that this was a wild thought.

To escape the stigma, T's family moved to HCM City. There they began a new life, but T was still ‘imprisoned’ in his home and thought of committing suicide. Doctors, though feeling great sympathy for him, could not help because Vietnamese law did not permit gender reassignment, allowing only treatment for what it perceived as 'problems in the sex organ'.

The pioneers

Last year, newspapers reported the first case of gender reassignment in Vietnam. Mr Thai Tai spent US$30,000 on a transsexual sex reassignment surgery in Thailand to become Ms Thai Tai. She leads a normal life and runs a successful business.

Participating in a fashion show at a club for homosexual people, I recently met several women who had been gender re-assigned through surgery. They are singers, always performing at nightclubs and dance halls. Though smartly dressed and well made up, they bear some male characteristics: less-than-smooth skin, slight leg hair and strong voices.

Doctors cite genital hormones as the basis of gender. Thus, simply changing the physical characteristics outside is only a partial solution and gender-reassigned people must take hormones every day for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately these hormones are not easily available in Vietnam, are quite expensive and must be bought abroad, forcing some to give up dreams of a sex change, sanctioned by law or not.

How to live a new life?

The greatest challenge for people undergoing gender reassignment surgery is discrimination from society. National Assembly deputies, policy makers and scientists debated recently whether to recognise gender redefinition as a human right and put it on the agenda for discussions of the amended civil code. The issue was ultimately ratified by the National Assembly.

Nevertheless, the provision only applies to those whose gender is not clearly defined without touching on those with clear gender, those who simply want gender reassignment or homosexuals.

Policy makers also cite the need to address changes in birth certificates, identification cards and family record books as collateral debate. And then there is discrimination from family and friends. Only freelancers (those in private business, freelance singers) dare live in Vietnam after reassignment and the majority must live abroad. They still have the capability to love and bring happiness to their lovers, with the only difference being that they may not conceive children in the same manner as others.

(Source: KH & DS)

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