Japan will continue to force trans people to undergo sterilising surgery if they want to be officially recognised by their chosen gender.
Four justices from Japan’s Supreme Court this week unanimously voted against an appeal filed by trans man Takakito Usui who wanted to have his gender legally changed from female to male in official documents.
The court decided to maintain the existing Law 111 which requires anyone seeking to change their gender legally to have “no reproductive glands or reproductive glands that have permanently lost function.”
The 2003 law also states that in order for a gender change to be legally recognised, trans people must have “a body which appears to have parts that resemble the genital organs of those of the opposite gender.”
Declaring the law as constitutional, the judges said that their decision will prevent relationship problems between parents and their children that could then lead to confusion and sudden changes in their conservative society.
The judges commented that they recognise the invasiveness of this law and regular reviews should be implemented in line with the the country’s changing social and family values.
In a statement, presiding judge Mamoru Miura said that although the invasive nature of the law may be constitutional, they cannot deny that doubts have been cast over it.
“Suffering related to gender, felt by people with gender identity disorder, is also the problem of society as a whole, which should encompass the diversity of sexual identity,” Miura said.
The decision ends Usui’s 2 year legal battle but his lawyer Tomoyasu Oyama said in an interview there still remains hope that parts of the ruling can help push lawmakers to change the anti-LGBTIQ policy.
“In this day and age, I can’t believe there is a law that requires people to have surgery,” Oyama said.
“We have been at this case for two years. And every month, every six months, we can see an improved understanding of the issue by society.”
In Australia, several states and territories – including Queensland – still require trans people to undergo sterilising surgery before they can affirm their gender on their birth certificates, a requirement which is out of reach of many trans people for financial, religious or medical reasons.
Last November, the Northern Territory passed laws allowing trans people to update their birth certificates without surgery.