Court-approved gender change results in new registration for transgender man

A groundbreaking decision has been made in central Japan as a transgender man has successfully obtained a new family register, officially recognizing him as male without the requirement of sterilization surgery. Gen Suzuki, 49, expressed his relief and contentment as his gender identity now aligns with the information on his family register, allowing him to live more comfortably.

Accompanied by his partner Ryoko Kunii, Suzuki conveyed the significance of the approval, emphasizing the lengthy process it entailed. However, the couple is grateful that the legal system has acknowledged their plight, offering hope and progress for others in similar situations.

The pivotal ruling was made by the Hamamatsu branch of the Shizuoka Family Court in October, deeming the law mandating sterilization surgery for gender changes on family registers as unconstitutional. This decision sets a remarkable precedent and marks a significant victory for the transgender community in Japan.

Following the court’s decision, Suzuki, who had advocated for the right to alter his gender on official documents without undergoing sterilization, has now achieved legal recognition without compromising his reproductive capabilities.

The court’s verdict emphasized the violation of Article 13 of the Constitution, asserting the fundamental principle of respecting and acknowledging individuals’ autonomy and self-identification. Furthermore, the ruling deemed it irrational to enforce physically invasive procedures on individuals with gender identity disorder against their volition.

Suzuki’s courageous stance reflects the broader challenges faced by transgender individuals, particularly regarding the social, legal, and medical barriers in affirming one’s gender identity. Despite undergoing hormone therapy and chest surgery, he chose to pursue legal action to avoid the adverse effects of a sex reassignment operation on his overall well-being.

Suzuki’s journey underscores the importance of recognizing and validating diverse gender identities, especially in a legal context. The alteration of his family register signifies a meaningful victory, representing a step forward in advancing the rights and acceptance of transgender individuals in Japanese society.

Family courts are responsible for approving modifications to family registers, which contain crucial personal information such as gender and family ties. The recent ruling signals a progressive shift in the legal landscape, promoting inclusivity and respect for gender diversity.

© KYODO

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