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No free sex-change operations for transgenders: Health office

The National Health Security Office (NHSO) has dismissed reports that transgenders will be able to get sex-change operations for free under the country’s universal healthcare scheme.


“The scheme provides medical help to intersex people, not for sex-change operations for transgenders,” NHSO secretary-general Sakchai Kanjanawattana recently said.

Intersex people, formerly called hermaphrodites, are those “having both male and female sexual characteristics and organs; at birth an unambiguous assignment of male or female cannot be made”, according to the NHSO.

“An intersex person, for example, may have female breasts and body but with male genitals. If hormone tests show she is a woman, she will need medical help so that her [presentation] matches her true sex. The medical help towards that goal will be given for free under the universal healthcare scheme,” Sakchai said.

He said the scheme did not cover sex-change operations for transgenders because their conditions were not considered health problems in Thailand.

The universal healthcare scheme is Thailand’s largest health programme, covering about 48 million people.

Rumours claiming the scheme would provide free sex-change operations started to swirl after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) spoke up for the rights of intersex people.

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