Japan should stop forcing transgender people to be surgically sterilized, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday (20 March).
The rights group released an 84-page report detailing the harm caused by Japan’s Gender Identity Disorder Special Cases (GID) Act.
According to Japan’s law, two ‘respected medical professional’ must first diagnose a trans person with ‘gender identity disorder’ before they can apply to change gender.
They must also be over 20 years old, unmarried, not have any underage children.
Importantly, the law forbids them to have functioning genitalia.
‘Japan should uphold the rights of transgender people and stop forcing them to undergo surgery to be legally recognized’ said Kanae Doi, Japan director at HRW.
The law is based on an outdated premise that treats gender identity as a so-called ‘mental illness’ and should be urgently revised.’
Medical procedures are lengthy, expensive, invasive, dangerous, and irreversible, the report says.
The practice is also contrary to international human rights law and international medical best practices.
What’s more, Japan’s Supreme Court recently upheld the law.
‘It is humiliating’
HRW spoke to 48 transgender people, as well as with lawyers, health providers, and academics from 14 prefectures in Japan.
They painted a picture of how the law infringes on their rights.
Some of the trans people included in the report said they felt forced to undergo surgery.
‘I don’t want to [have surgery], to be honest’ one transgender man told HRW. ‘I feel pressured to be operated on – so terrible.’
Another transgender man said he felt ’severely insulted’ and that his human rights had been neglected. ‘It is humiliating.’
‘The surgery requirement itself feels wrong. It feels a lot like a surgery to maintain order. Why do we have to put a scalpel through our healthy bodies just for sake of the country’s order?’
Many transgender Japanese people have to decide between being legally recognized and having the body they want.
Japanese law rushes them into making life-changing and irreversible decisions about their bodies.
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Author: Rik Glauert