From Toan to To An- as I truly am

Jun 5, 2013

“I want to live my life as I truly am, without any stigma and discrimination. I want to be recognized as a normal citizen” Jessica said

Jessica and her friends went to Tan Son Nhat airport yesterday to catch a plane for Ha Noi to join a meeting. As much as she was excited about the trip, Jescica was worried about the security check at the airport. She holds a male ID card.

Her friends also held their breath as she stepped up to the check-in counter. To her surprise, the police officer on duty merely smiled and asked her why she hasn’t yet changed her name. Jessica felt relieved, as well as empowered.

But she is not always so lucky. Many times since her sex reassignment operation, Jessica has been refused access because of her male ID card. Keen to make her life easier, she has asked the local authority to amend her ID cards and change her name from Nguyen Huu Toan to Nguyen Huynh To An, a beautiful female name that she longs for. But for more than a year, the amendment has not been made because, as the public servant has said, there is no legal framework to guide this.

Jessica shared her story at a national dialogue in Ha Noi on 5 June on the legal and social challenges facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Likewise, other participants talked about the difficulties they face accessing the law, education, health and employment. “I just want to be treated as anyone else. I want to live in dignity and respect. That is all I want”. This was repeated many times during the one-day discussion.

More information:
Media release
UNDP’s speech
USAID’s speech

Jessica from HCM City: “I want to live my life as I truly am, without any stigma and discrimination. I want to be recognized as a normal citizen”
Nguyen Tran Dai Hai from Ha Noi: “All I need is a sound understanding from people.”
Luong The Huy from HCM City: “Being LGBT is fabulous! Lesbian or gay is eventually the story of love. Every love starts from sincerity, sharing and a need to be respected”
Nguyen Thi Hanh from HCM City: “there are no parents who don’t love their children but we have pressure from the society. We hope that various organizations will enhance communication work so that other people understand and reduce pressure on us, the parents of LGBT”
Lo Lo from HCM City: “Experience at school is the most horrible thing for LGBT, with both verbal and physical violence. As a result, many have to drop out from school. They cannot find a job and become a burden for the society.”
Tran Khac Tung from HCM City: "The biggest problems we face every day are stigma and discrimination. We believe these are best solved through education, and in educational settings. Children need to learn about diversity so they can realize that actually we are all beautiful in our own ways”.