Takakito Usui, a trans individual, lost his case in Japan’s Supreme Court which challenged the country’s requirement that any person desiring to change their gender on official documents to have “no reproductive glands or reproductive glands that have permanently lost function.” Usui identifies as male and wanted to have his documents changed from his assigned female gender.
The law also requires that the person have “a body which appears to have parts that resemble the genital organs of those of the opposite gender,” meaning that a costly reassignment surgery must be performed prior. All four judges ruled against Usui’s appeal and declared the law constitutional despite recognizing “doubts” over the laws reflecting current social values citing that it is intended parent-child relationship issues that could lead to societal “confusion” and change society too “abrupt[ly].”
They also recognize that the law interferes in people’s private lives and encouraged it to be reviewed as family values changed. Justice Mamoru Miura stated “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.”
Usui responded after the loss that “The essential thing should not be whether you have had an operation or not, but how you want to live as an individual,” and his lawyer Tomoyasu Oyama stated “In this day and age, I can’t believe there is a law that requires [trans] people to have surgery.”
This ruling comes just days after the United States Supreme Court ruled that President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban would be allowed showing that controversial laws concerning trans individuals are going to become increasingly challenged. Despite any libertarian’s opinion on the validity of transgender pronouns or expression, it must be recognized that no government should be requiring sterilization in order to change a single letter on a document.
Japan’s trans policy reminds of the United States’ own eugenics laws that had been implemented in the early 20th century where citizens in mental institutions were forcefully sterilized, with the majority of victims being women who were treated for their “sexuality.” Forced sterilization was also used on those deemed undesirable, typically non-white citizens, the poor and anyone considered a “mental defective.”
This law reflects this policy almost verbatim, the exception being the illusion of choice if one wishes to be their identified gender legally. Japan’s Supreme Court simply replaced “mental defective” with gender dysphoria, and relied on coercion rather than force. Hopefully, the law will become challenged again, as the judges encouraged, and Japan will be a step closer to ensuring everyone’s individual rights.