The Vietnamese Ministry of Justice has ordered that a decision to revoke the country’s first official recognition of a trans woman’s identity be halted until the prime minister can weigh in on the matter.
Pham Le Quynh Tram, a teacher and the first trans person to gain legal recognition of their gender in Vietnam, was told last month that she would no longer be recognised as a woman by the the People’s Committee of Binh Phuoc.
The committee ordered the local department of justice to revert to considering her as a man and using her male birth name, Pham Van Hiep.
However, the Ministry of Justice has now stepped in to halt the process, saying that the committee must wait for input from Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who will speak to the Ministry’s for Justice and Health on the matter.
Ms Tram had her name and gender change recognised in 2009 by the Chon Thanh District, after undergoing surgery. Her official recognition meant that official documents such as passport and driver’s license stated her gender as female.
The dommittee argued that Ms Tram’s surgery flouted a law that makes gender reassignment surgery illegal after puberty, and that as the surgery took place in Thailand rather than at an authorised Vietnamese hospital it should not be recognised.
On hearing of the decision Ms Tram said: “I was deeply shocked. I could not sleep. Four years since I changed my name and re-defined my sex, I have done nothing wrong nor lost the virtue of a Vietnamese woman.”
“I don’t know why they want to revoke the decision that recognised me as female,” said Ms Tram. “I’m intersex so I am allowed to redefine my sex in accordance with the government’s Decree No 88.”