Under 18? No sex change for you

Under 18? No sex change for you

Rather than put a damper on Bangkok's lucrative gender reassignment industry, new rules will likely give it an international boost

Famous Thai ladyboy Amp Araya in a TV commercial for Yanhee International Hospital. When her friend asks what she’s doing there, Amp replies that she’s getting her voice corrected.

Thailand’s reputation as a destination for safe, affordable sex changes will likely get a boost thanks to new regulations issued by the Medical Council of Thailand

Starting November 29, transgender patients will have to meet a minimum age requirement of 18 years before being allowed to undergo sexual reassignment, reports The Nation. They must also consult a psychiatrist, live as a woman for a year and receive hormone therapy.
 
Few are likely to object to these new laws. But one might wonder why youth under 18 were -- and, for the next two months, still are -- allowed to get sex changes to begin with.

Bangkok sex changesA Yanhee doctor enquires about the health of a patient following a sex change operation.Yanhee International Hospital is one of Bangkok’s most famous gender reassignment hospitals, though it's a full-service medical facility with all of the usual offerings like pediatricians, orthopaedic surgeons and dentists.

Men love this place. The main floor looks more like a scene from a Russ Meyer movie than a proper hospital.

The receptionists are hot -- especially the ones at the counter, where you enquire about the hospital’s beauty treatments. There are skirt-clad girls rushing around on Rollerblades, delivering files. Nurses wear tight classic uniforms, complete with cute little caps pinned into their hair.

Signs throughout the hospital, on walls and in elevators, advertise the many ways you can go from drab to fab, from liposuction to breast implants. Prices for sex changes at Yanhee start from US$6,000 and require two weeks. They offer male to female and vice versa, though the latter is significantly more expensive.

“This is a combination of several surgeries, some of them irreversible,” says the hospital.

The new rules will likely give Yanhee and its Thai counterparts a boost, proving to international patients, particularly those who may have previously had concerns, that Thailand does take its medical tourism industry seriously.