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Restricting transgender use of toilets is ‘unacceptable’ – Japan’s Supreme Court

In Japan, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled that restricting a transgender woman’s use of toilets at their workplaces is “unacceptable”.

Photo by Alex Knight from Unsplash.com

In Japan, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled that restricting a transgender woman’s use of toilets at their workplaces is “unacceptable”.

This is the first ruling made by Japan’s highest court on the work environment for LGBTQIA people.

The case that Japan’s SC decided on stemmed from a complaint filed by an official at the economy ministry – who was assigned male at birth but identified as transgender – who was only allowed to use women’s toilets several floors away from her office, instead of closer ones.

In Japan, transgender people can only legally change their gender on their family register after having gender affirmation surgery (GAS). The woman who filed the court case had not undergone GAS due to health reasons. As such, following the country’s law, she continues to be identified as “male”, following her assigned sex at birth.

In 2019, a Tokyo District Court ruled that those restrictions were unlawful. This decision was reversed in 2021 by the Tokyo High Court, which forced the SC to decide on the case.

“We will carefully examine the ruling and take appropriate measures after consulting with the relevant ministries and agencies,” the ministry that was sued said in a statement.

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