Hong Kong: Transgender people must have full sex change surgery to switch gender on gov’t ID, court affirms

The High Court on Friday affirmed the government’s policy that a transgender person can only change the sex entry on their identity card if they undergo full sex reassignment surgery. The judicial review cases by three transgender applicants were dismissed. Speaking after the judgment was handed down, the applicants’ lawyer expressed disappointment and said they would appeal.

Judge Thomas Au said that changing the gender entry on ID cards was “not solely a medical issue, but also a legal issue” and would affect the wider public interest. For example, emergency services and healthcare providers would need to rely on the data.

Au agreed that sex reassignment surgery was a serious infringement on physical integrity, but it was the “only objectively ascertainable criterion” to determine a person’s gender. Anything falling short of full surgery would only be a type of “self-definition,” Au said.

The legal challenge was started by three female-to-male transgender applicants: Henry Edward Tse, and two others called “Q” and “R” in order to preserve anonymity.

According to their lawyers, all three had been living as male for years, and have undergone surgery to remove their breasts and received hormonal treatment. However, they did not want to surgically alter their genitalia or reproductive organs. They took the government to court after it refused to change the gender entry on their identity cards, saying that they have not completed their sex reassignment surgeries. Read more via HKFP