|Binh Dan Hospital in HCM City’s District 3 has introduced a new health care services for LGBT patients. (Photo: bvbinhdan.com.vn)
Dr Nguyen Ho Vinh Phuoc of the hospital said: “They can receive services in a private space with respect from the hospital’s health staff.”
Nguyen Tan Thu, a doctor specialising in serving LGBT people, said the service at a public hospital was especially important because patients had often complained about discriminatory attitudes at public hospital facilities.
Thu said that many of them had avoided health care or sought illegal services. Some of them were seeking medical or surgical treatments to transition physically to their self-affirmed gender.
Many of the patients are at high risk of contracting HIV and sexually transmitted diseases and need services in these areas, as well as psychological health care, according to the doctor.
The number of transgender people who are clinically depressed or want to commit suicide, or abuse alcohol or stimulants, is very high in Vietnam.
“Like everyone, they want to visit hospitals for health exams and treatment. However, because of widespread discrimination, there is a lack of understanding among healthcare staff,” Thu said.
A transgender woman called To Mi from HCM City said many LGBT people did not know where to seek information about transition surgery.
“I am asked where I had surgery, but I don’t dare introduce them” because the place may not be suitable, she said.
A transgender man from HCM City said that he had a bilateral mastectomy in Thailand, which cost much more than in Vietnam. However, illegal surgery in certain places in Vietnam is not considered safe.
“I have to fly to Thailand every six months after my surgery. It’s costly,” he said.
Mi said that she and other transgender people want better access to health care services after their transition.
Dr Phuoc said that, to meet the high demand of LGBT individuals, the hospital provides counselling about sexual and reproductive health for them and their relatives.
The hospital also provides screening, prevention and treatment for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as general counselling.
They are also provide counselling about hormone therapy before, during and after transition, and receive treatment for complications after transgender surgery, he said.
Binh Dan Hospital is one of several health facilities in the city providing health care services for LGBT people.
According to the NGO Centre for Supporting Community Development Initiatives, Vietnam is estimated to have nearly 300.000 to 500.000 transgender people, although no official figures exist.
The Ministry of Health is completing information for the National Assembly for a draft law that would protect the legal status and rights of transgender people, including those who have had sex reassignment surgery and those who have not had the surgery.
The law would create more favourable conditions for LGBT patients at health care facilities in the country.