Japan’s government should stop forcing transgender people to be surgically sterilized if they want legal recognition of their gender identity, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Requiring a medical intervention as a condition of having their gender identity legally recognized violates Japan’s human rights obligations and runs counter to international medical standards.
The 84-page report, “‘A Really High Hurdle’: Japan’s Abusive Transgender Legal Recognition Process,” documents how Japan’s Gender Identity Disorder Special Cases (GID) Act harms transgender people who want to be legally recognized but cannot or do not want to undergo irreversible medical procedures like sterilization.
“Japan should uphold the rights of transgender people and stop forcing them to undergo surgery to be legally recognized,” said Kanae Doi, Japan director at Human Rights Watch. “The law is based on an outdated premise that treats gender identity as a so-called ‘mental illness’ and should be urgently revised.”
In Japan, transgender people who want to legally change their gender must appeal to a family court under the GID Act, which was introduced in 2004. The procedure is discriminatory, requiring applicants to be single and without children under age 20, to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to receive a diagnosis of “gender identity disorder,” and to be sterilized. This is regressive and harmful. The requirements rest on an outdated and pejorative notion that a transgender identity is a mental health condition, and compel transgender people to undergo lengthy, expensive, invasive, and irreversible medical procedures. Read more via HRW