Japanese transsexual parent denied right to change sex in registry

January 09, 2007

TOKYO — Masami Osako, a Japanese transsexual, has been denied the right to change her birth records by the Kobe Family Court's Amagasaki branch because she once had a child before having a sex-change operation.

The requirements to change a person’s sex in Japan are strict: “Applicants... must have had a sex-change operation and been diagnosed by two doctors as having gender-identity disorder,” reports 365Gay.com. They must also be at least 20 years old and not have functioning reproductive organs, according to the Kyodo news service.

Furthermore, notes 365Gay, “only unmarried, childless applicants can change their official gender.” This law was originally designed with a young person’s welfare in mind, but Osako’s child is an adult. Osako remarked to the Kyodo news service that “divorce, which can impact the relationship between a parent and child, is still allowed.” According to the Kyodo news service, the once-married but now-divorced Osako says she feels "uneasy about the incongruity of my current appearance and the gender in the registry."

Many other Japanese transsexuals are in the same boat as Osako: Less than 200 have actually been able to get their records changed, though thousands have actually had sex-change operations.

That number is reflective of the general negative attitude towards transgendered people in Japan. Though there may be as many as 10,000, they often feel like unwelcome members of society. This can lead them to delay or avoid getting proper medical care, among other problems.

“Transsexuals say they are reluctant to seek work or even go to the dentist for fear their original gender will be revealed by documents such as health insurance cards,” says 365Gay.

Not only that, but “transsexuals find they are still considered in their prior sex when they try to marry.” Japan still does not permit same-sex marriage.

According to the Kyodo news service, Osaka will be filing an appeal. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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