Transgender at Work: Livelihoods for Transgender People in Vietnam

IDS Evidence Report
Hoang, T-A; Oosterhoff, P
Institute of Development Studies
Publication date: 
Wednesday, 3 February, 2016

This study, undertaken by the Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP) and Institute of Development Studies (IDS), hopes to gain more insights into both the opportunities and the obstacles that trans people face and to understand how they could be supported to increase their livelihood options.

The report highlights that a lack of legal framework that recognises transgender people as a specific category contributes to preventing transgender people from accessing employment opportunities, partly because of the lack of suitable identity documents. The same problems prevent them from accessing loan schemes for helping them establish their own business. To date, Vietnam does not have any law or policy that protects workers from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.

The report provides a number of recommendations for organisations and groups supporting transgender people, to the government and to the private sector/chamber of commerce.

  • The laws in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam promote equality for all citizens and refer to ‘persons’ rather than ‘men’ or ‘women’. However, because of traditional gender norms, transgender people in Vietnam are facing severe stigma and discrimination in public, in schools, at home and in the workplace.
  • Before 1975, homosexuality and transgenderism were considered ‘social diseases’, ‘social evils’, and were targets for elimination in government health and public policies; after 1975, there was a higher emphasis on this as the public saw them as remnants of American neo-colonialism.
  • Transgender people have difficulty accessing services and rights as they cannot change their personal identification card, which is an obstacle to obtaining social services, housing and work. 
  • Gender roles and norms affect the employment practices, options and preferences of transmen and transwomen differently. 
Opendocs reference: