While parts of Japan made breakthroughs for the LGBT+ community in recent years, the country continues to apply a law that requires transgender people to undergo sterilization before they can legally change their gender.
The rule is part of Japan’s Law 111 of 2003, which also requires citizens seeking to change their legal gender to be single, have no children under the age of 20 and receive a diagnosis of gender identity disorder (GID) following psychiatric evaluation.
The law specifically stating that applicants must “permanently lack functioning gonads” before legal recognition has since been condemned by the United Nations and the World Health Organization.
However, the Japanese Justice Ministry asserted earlier this year that the sterilization requirement avoids “various confusion and problems that would arise when a child was born because of the reproductive ability retained from the former sex,” the Asahi Shimbun noted.
Last week, Human Rights Watch brought the issue back to light and urged the Japanese government to revise the law:
“Forcing people to undergo unwanted surgeries to obtain documentation is contrary both to Japan’s human rights obligations and its reputation as a champion of LGBT rights.”
“The government should urgently revise Law 111 to end forced sterilization.”
Takakito Usui, a transgender man, challenged the law in 2016. Born female, he hoped to marry his girlfriend as a man by having his gender legally altered.
“The law violates Article 13 of the Constitution because it requires (invasive) surgery that does tremendous damage to a person’s body and, therefore, is invalid,” Usui argued before a family court.
But on Feb. 6, the court decided that the sterilization requirement “is not unreasonable to the extent of violating the Constitution.”
In response, Usui — who has since been diagnosed with GID and undergone hormone treatment — criticized the law for being “out of touch with reality.”
What do you think of Japan’s law requiring sterilizations for transgender people?