From Toan to To An- as I truly am
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.