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Transgenders offered free sex changes: Project to 'free' women trapped in men's bodies

in THAILAND, 25/03/2011

A transgender association is offering a free sex change for cash-strapped transgender people to fulfil their dream of becoming a woman.

More than 100 transgender people have applied for free sex-change surgery under the Sister's Hand project initiated by the TransFemale Association of Thailand.

But only five will be chosen to undergo operations.

The project, which is sponsored by the Preecha Aesthetic Institute, Yanhee Hospital and Discovery Channel, is in its second year.

Yollada Krirkkong, the association's president, said the association was founded five years ago to campaign to improve the life quality of transgender people in "every possible aspect".

Sister's Hand was launched last year and is the first project initiated by a private sector to provide free sex-change surgery, said Ms Yollada, who has herself undergone a sex change operation.

The project is aimed at freeing transgender people from feelings of "being imprisoned in a male's physical identity", she said.

With sponsorship from several private companies, the project provides assistance to transgender people who do not have enough money for sex-change surgery, which costs more than 100,000 baht.

She said applicants had to pass the assessment criteria by psychiatrists and doctors on endocrine systems to qualify and they were also required to spend at least one year living as a woman to qualify for sex-change surgery.Ms Yollada admitted the project still had not received funding on a permanent basis.

"But the project must go ahead and we will do all we can to help [transgender people]," Ms Yollada said.

She also called on the government to lend support to the project.

She said the next step would be to set up a foundation to provide scholarships to support the education of transgender people, particularly in the field of surgery, so when they graduate as surgeons they can work for the project to help other needy transgender people.

A transsexual named Beer, a 22-year-old beautician, was among dozens of transgender persons gathering at the association to apply for the programme.

Beer said she had felt she was a female since she was a small child and undergoing the sex-change operation would fulfil her dream of being a woman both physically and mentally.

She has already had a breast enlargement operation and is looking forward to the free sex-change surgery.

"I wish to see that thing between my legs disappear," she said. "I feel hurt every time I see it because it is not me."

A transsexual named Rodmay, a 24-year-old tutor, underwent a sex-change operation under the project last year. She said she was from a farming family and did not have enough money for the operation.

"I used to cry almost every day because I was trapped in a man's body. I cry no more after undergoing the operation," she said.

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