monday, 28 january of 2019

Sex identity

Supreme Court rules surgery to change legal sex identity is ´currently constitutional´

The Supreme Court has ruled that a law effectively forcing people with gender identity disorder who want to officially register a change in their sex to undergo surgery is “currently constitutional.”

The case was brought by Takakito Usui, a 45-year-old from the village of Shinjo in Okayama Prefecture, who wished to register as a male without undergoing surgery.

The law infringes upon Usui’s “right to determine how to live my life, by forcing sex surgery in practice” and that the provision is unconstitutional, he said when the case was first brought to a family court in Okayama in 2016.

In Wednesday’s ruling, the top court said the law considers that if a child were to be born before a parent changes their own registration to the opposite sex, confusion may then arise in parent-child relations.

The provision also averts sudden disruptions in a society that has long distinguished gender on the basis of biology, the court said.

The four judges of the court were unanimous in their ruling on the law’s constitutionality, agreeing with lower courts.

They recognized, however, that the law borders on infringement of personal liberty given that people are forced to undergo surgery in order to change their registered sex. “Continued study is necessary to determine its constitutionality” as society changes, they added.

As social recognition of gender identity disorder is changing, “doubts about the law’s constitutionality are growing and we seek an appropriate response on the basis of respecting individuality and personality,” said Presiding Judge Mamoru Miura, and Kaoru Onimaru, one of the four Supreme Court justices, in a concurring opinion.

I’m disappointed,” Usui said at a news conference Thursday, “but it can’t be helped at this point. The ruling had some positive aspects and I think the issue was understood to some extent.”

Although the Supreme Court decision has been made, it doesn’t mean Japan should stay as is,” Usui added.

A law on “special cases in handling gender status” for persons with gender identity disorder, implemented in 2004, has a set of conditions for those wishing to register as a member of the opposite sex.

The conditions include lack of — or dysfunctional — reproductive glands, and genitalia similar in appearance to those of the opposite sex, thus making surgery necessary.

Usui appealed the family court’s decision, rejecting his claim, to the Okayama branch of the Hiroshima High Court, which also dismissed it, before the case arrived at the Supreme Court.

(Published by Japan Times, January 25, 2019)

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