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Japan’s Supreme Court rules trans sterilization requirement before gender change is unconstitutional

In Japan, the Supreme Court ruled that the requirement for transgender people to first undergo sterilization before they can officially change genders is unconstitutional.

Photo by Denys Nevozhai from Unsplash.com

In Japan, the Supreme Court ruled that the requirement for transgender people to first undergo sterilization before they can officially change genders is unconstitutional.

A 2004 law states that people can only change their gender if they no longer have reproductive capacity. With this, Japan is one of 18 countries that mandate the sterilization surgery.

The law was contested by a transgender woman, who filed a petition to challenge this law. Her lawyer argued that her reproductive ability was already diminished by years of hormone therapy, and demanding for her to also undergo surgery meant additional physical suffering and being exposed to after-effects. Initially, her request was denied by the family and high court, which led to case reaching the Supreme Court.

The court actually already made a decision on this, when – in 2019 – it declared this law constitutional. This new decision thereby reverses that 2019 verdict.

Interestingly, only earlier this month, a local family court ruled in favor of Gen Suzuki, a transgender man, who asked for his gender to be legally changed sans the surgery. In the decision, the family court judge, Takehiro Sekiguchi, stated that the current law violated Article 13 of Japan’s Constitution, which stipulates that all people should be respected as individuals.

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