Gay, lesbian, busexual and transgender news bites for the week.


Korean University Students Elect First Out Lesbian President

(SFGN) Seoul National University has made front page news in the region after students elected Kim Bo-mi as the first openly lesbian student body president, the Independent reports.

Just over half the student body voted in the election. Bo-mi won 86.8 per cent of the votes with 11.2 per cent casting negative ballots, despite Bo-mi running unopposed. Her election made front page headlines an opportunity which Bo-mi used to make a statement.

“I hope that people love themselves for who they are and live with confidence in this world,” she told Korea’s voracious media.

“So I am telling you here that I am a lesbian,” she said.

Bo-mi’s orientation appears to be of little consequence to her classmates.

“I don’t care whether she’s a lesbian or not,” said Park Han-jin, a senior at the university. “These days many of my friends don’t care about gender.”

Despite the seeming acceptance or indifference from Bo-mi’s classmates, her openness regarding her sexuality has stirred Korea’s older religious and conservative set.

“I am totally against this kind of thing,” said Choi Byun-jin, a 67-year-old retiree. “It is against God’s will. God created human beings as man and woman. They cannot change.”

“They should expel her from the university,” said one aging Korean army veteran in central Seoul. “We are not standing up against our enemies to protect her.”

Yet at nearby Yonsei University, the student body echoes the sentiment of those at Seoul National.

“I like her for who she is regardless of her personal life,” said 20-year-old Leer Soo-jin. “As long as she does her job right, it doesn’t matter, who cares?”

Gay & Bisexual

CDC says 1 in 4 Gay and Bisexual Men should be on PrEP

(SFGN) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data stating 1.2 million Americans and their doctors should be educated about using pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, the Advocate reports. The figure includes one in four, or 492,000, sexually active gay and bi men

Additionally one in five, or 115,000, adults who inject drugs, and one in 200, or 620,000, sexually active straight adults, are also advised to consider PrEP, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and National Survey on Family Growth.

Thus far, Truvada is the only drug approved for PrEP. Studies show, taken once daily, the drug makes it more difficult for HIV to establish a permanent infection after exposure to the virus through sexual contact or injectable drug use.

Used in combination with other HIV drugs, Truvada was approved for PrEP by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012, but The Washington Post reports a recent survey showed that a third of primary care doctors had not heard of it.

Studies have shown that PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV by a degree of 70 to more than 90 percent. Researchers at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco announced in September that 100 percent of the more than 600 high-risk individuals, remained HIV-free for two years while taking Truvada for a study.


Vietnam Moves to Legalize Gender Reassignment

The Vietnamese National Assembly approved a bill to legalize sex reassignment surgery and to introduce legal gender recognition for transgender people who have undergone such surgery, Human Rights Watch reports.

The law allows those who wish to undergo gender reassignment surgeries to do so in Vietnam rather than abroad, and to subsequently change the gender marker on their official documents.

“We are celebrating this victory not only for our community, but also for our country. Vietnam has become more tolerant and inclusive,” said Nguyen Hai Yen, project manager of ICS (Instruct, Connect and Service), the Vietnamese organization striving for equal rights for LGBT people, based in Ho Chi Minh City. “Still, a lot of work needs to be done to ensure a gender recognition procedure that meets transgender people’s needs. In amending the civil code, an important door has been opened for us.”

Under current law, sex reassignment surgery (SRS), is only permitted for intersex people. In the past, some Vietnamese transgender people have travelled to Thailand to undergo SRS. Those who chose not to have surgery would still be unable to change their gender on legal documents.

The World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH), has stated: “No person should have to undergo surgery or accept sterilization as a condition of identity recognition.” In a January 2015 policy statement, WPATH called on governments “to eliminate unnecessary barriers, and to institute simple and accessible administrative procedures for transgender people to obtain legal recognition of gender, consonant with each individual’s identity, when gender markers on identity documents are considered necessary.”