Transgender people in Japan must first undergo sterilization before they can have their gender changed on their official documents, such as passports.
The measure is part of Law 111, an existing law that the Japanese supreme court recently upheld and deemed constitutional, Agence France-Presse reports.
Under the said law, any individual who wants to change their documents must have “no reproductive glands or reproductive glands that have permanently lost function.”
Such an individual is also required to have “a body which appears to have parts that resemble the genital organs of those of the opposite gender.”
Takakito Usui, a 45-year-old transgender man, recently made an appeal to overturn Law 111 in order to allow him to change official documents that identify him as female without undergoing reassignment surgery.
In a unanimous decision on Wednesday, four justices ruled to uphold the law and dismiss Usui’s appeal, noting that the measure was intended to prevent parent-child relation issues that could eventually lead to “confusion” and “abrupt changes” in society.
The judges, however, recognized the nature of the law is invasive and expressed that it should be reviewed as social and family values evolve.
Presiding justice Mamoru Miura joined another justice in an additional opinion saying that “doubts are undeniably emerging.”
“Suffering related to gender, felt by people with gender identity disorder, is also the problem of society as a whole, which should encompass the diversity of sexual identity,” Miura was quoted as saying in a statement.
In an interview with the AFP, Usui’s lawyer Tomoyasu Oyama lamented how the decision turned out, but also expressed hope that parts of it could boost a campaign to pressure legislators to change the rule.
“In this day and age, I can’t believe there is a law that requires people to have surgery. We have been at this case for two years. And every month, every six months, we can see an improved understanding of the issue by society,” said Oyama.