Trans couple marries happily against all odds

By Phan Duong   April 8, 2023 | 03:00 am PT
Ngoc couldn’t stop crying tears of joy on her wedding day.

She’s long known that finding love is extremely hard for transgender people, and finding support getting married legally is even more difficult.

But she got all three.

On March 26, more than 300 guests attended Ngoc’s wedding to her husband Dan. The applause and cheers of congratulations rang loud throughout the venue as the 43-year-old bride Ngoc walked across the stage abreast with her 32-year-old groom Dan, surrounded by white flowers.

"I have always dreamed about a fairy tale-like wedding. Today, that dream came true," Ngoc said.

Their wedding ceremony on March 26 was decorated in white and used a lot of flowers, aligned with the bride Ngoc Tran’s preferences. Photo courtesy of Ngoc and Dan.

The "White Wedding" ceremony on March 26, all decked out in Ngoc’s favorite flowers. Photo courtesy of Dan and Ngoc

From an early age, Ngoc Tran (birth name Lieu Ngoc Quang) realized that she identified as a girl despite being assigned the male sex at birth. She came out as an early member of the Vietnamese LGBT community in 2003. She also founded "The gioi thu 3" ("Third World") organization, an organization that supports transgenders.

Eleven years ago, Ngoc went to Thailand for gender-affirming surgery, transforming her physical body completely to that of a female.

"Previously, I only dared to dress as a woman after dark. I was called queer. The uncomfortable feeling I got when being called such names disappeared after the surgery," the trans woman said.

Since then, Ngoc’s career in the entertainment industry has blossomed. She’s now a successful singer, director, screenwriter, and event organizer. She’s most well-known for her famous participation in a TV comedy competition aired in 2016.

"She is smart, communicates well, and always knows how to deal with every problem. I was impressed with her since the first time we met," said trans man and Ngoc’s husband Ngo Minh Dan.

The couple met at a mutual friend’s birthday party six years ago. The quiet trans man, who works as a tattoo artist, was immediately impressed with the chatty, bubbly woman. They like each other immediately. In their second encounter, they exchanged contact information. They then began meeting regularly and got to know each other well over the next year. Dan admired Ngoc, while Ngoc felt that Dan was reliable.

On Valentine's Day in 2019, Dan asked Ngoc out for dinner. Ngoc was surprised when Dan took her to a restaurant in District 3. On the rooftop of a 23-storey building nicknamed "the paradise of light," Dan gave Ngoc a ring and confessed his love for her.

Dan said it had taken him a month to find the right location to do so. He chose the restaurant because its walls were all glass, which not only allowed guests to see the whole city, but also allowed the city to see him and his fiancée.

"I wanted to show Ngoc all of my appreciation, and let her know that we deserved to be happy, just like anyone else," Minh Dan shared.

The couple confessed to each other during their Valentine’s Day date in 2019. Photo courtesy of Dan and Ngoc.

The couple confess their love on a Valentine’s Day date in 2019. Photo courtesy of Dan and Ngoc

Ngoc also confessed her love for Dan in turn.

They held hands, hugged, and kissed for the first time. Later, the couple moved in together. Still, they only slowly began revealing their relationship openly to the public.

After starting to date Dan, Ngoc gradually switched her career from the entertainment industry to the business world. Together, the couple then opened a beauty parlor in District 3. Ngoc said that she’s in charge of the business’ "external relationships," while Dan oversees "internal affairs."

Though they have very different personalities, the couple rarely fights. When they get into disagreements, Dan said that he often apologizes first, regardless of who is right or wrong.

"Ngoc has a lot of traits that I truly appreciate. She is straightforward and has a strong personality. She never argues just to prove that she’s right. And she’s never tried to change who I am as a person," Dan said.

Over the past two years, the couple’s business was hit hard by the pandemic, which brought about the most difficult period in their relationship so far.

But despite the financial obstacles, Dan has been able to keep the couple afloat. He wakes up early every morning to buy food at the market. He then comes home, wakes up his girlfriend, and then prepares a different breakfast for her each day.

Ngoc said the food is as tasty and well presented as the best restaurants and that she feels like she’s being taken on a "culinary journey" with each meal.

Dan also takes the time to prepare Ngoc’s clothes, mask, helmet and motorbike for her each time she goes out.

"I feel like I’m a princess," Ngoc said.

As the pandemic has finally subsided, their business is also recovering. Ngoc even travels on business frequently now. Dan still prepares everything for her each trip.

"As time passes, we’ve proved to be the perfect match for each other."

The couple first started talking about getting married in 2021. They made plans but postponed them twice: once for the pandemic, and once because Ngoc’s mother, who lives in France, became ill. Either way, the lovebirds still completed their official marriage registration process in October 2022.

Wedding photo of the couple, taken in Hoi An. Photo courtesy of Dan and Ngoc.

One of the couple’s wedding photos, taken in Hoi An. Photo courtesy of Dan and Ngoc

Then it was finally time for their wedding, for which both lovers’ parents, relatives, and friends travelled from all over the world to attend.

The groom’s mother – who 8 years ago had accompanied her son to Thailand to support his gender-affirmation surgery – took care of the bride’s hair and dress. On the wedding day, she held her daughter-in-law’s hand, and thanked her for coming into her son’s life.

The bride’s mother, Yen, said she has also always supported Ngoc in "being herself". Although she confessed to worrying about her child as they live so far apart.

However, things are different now after the marriage: "Now that she has someone to rely on and to take care of, I’m relieved."

Social activist for the rights of the LGBT community Huynh Minh Thao said he and Ngoc have known each other since they started being active in the Vietnamese LGBT community in 2003. He said that a special bond had been formed among those who in those days had been discriminated against.

"I hope that in the future, gender will not interfere with the marriage process anymore. Any couple who love each other should get married," Thao said.

The ceremony, words of congratulations from the guests made the trans bride burst into tears, while the groom held in his feelings. "We did not only find each other but also a happy relationship and even a legal marriage. We never dared dream about this miracle before," he said.

The newlywed couple are now planning to have a child in order to enjoy the happy experience of parenting, just like other families.

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