Transgender man in Japan wants change recognized without surgery

A transgender man from central Japan filed a request with a court on Monday to change his gender in his family registry without undergoing gender reassignment surgery as currently required by law.

General Suzuki, 46, who lives as a man but is listed as a woman in the family register, filed the application with the Hamamatsu section of the Shizuoka Family Court, insisting that the identity a person’s gender should be respected without requiring surgery.

Corrections to family registers, which record information on citizens’ identities such as gender as well as family relationships, require authorization from family courts.

Suzuki said he felt uncomfortable being treated like a woman from a young age and was diagnosed with gender identity disorder at the age of 40.

He has undergone masculinizing hormone therapy and surgically removed his breast tissue, but does not want to undergo gender reassignment surgery, which suppresses reproductive capacity, seeing it as having a heavy impact on physical and mental health.

Suzuki told reporters in July: “It is wrong for the state to force unwanted surgery. There should be different options. He said he was ready to eventually appeal to the Supreme Court if his request was rejected.

After filing the request on Monday, Suzuki held a press conference with his partner and said the two intended to marry. “I find it absurd that transgender people cannot enjoy marriage equality in Japan” unless they change their gender in their family records, Suzuki said.

In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that Japan’s Gender Identity Disorders Law requiring sex reassignment surgery as a condition for legal sex reassignment is currently constitutional, but that should be revised as standards social change.

But two of the four main judges involved in the case expressed the view that the stipulation “is suspected” of violating the constitutional right to seek happiness.

In 2014, the World Health Organization and other United Nations organizations called for respect for the right of transgender people to maintain their fertility and for the elimination of forced, coercive and otherwise unintentional sterilization.

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