The Japanese government’s attitude toward transgenderism differs starkly from the one maintained by the U.S. government, which has strived to establish an “inclusive” society where transgender men and women benefit from certain rights.
To simply switch one’s gender in Japan, for instance, one must be sterilized, according to a legal requirement cited by the Human Rights Watch.
Based on a law passed in 2003, this requirement mandates gender-change applicants “permanently lack functioning gonads,” HRW reported.
The human rights organization further noted that a number of health groups across the world, including the U.S. World Health Organization, have condemned this requirement.
This practice was likewise included in a report published four years ago by the the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
“In many countries transgender persons are required to undergo often unwanted sterilization surgeries as a prerequisite to enjoy legal recognition of their preferred gender,” wrote then-Rapporteur Juan E. Méndez.
The report also noted that “members of sexual minorities are disproportionately subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment because they fail to conform to socially constructed gender expectations.”
Transgender Europe, a trans rights organization based out of Europe, pointed out at the time that this was quite “strong language” for the U.N.
In conclusion, the Special Rapporteur urged all nations “to outlaw forced or coerced sterilization in all circumstances and provide special protection to individuals belonging to marginalized groups.”
Yet the sterilization law still remains on the books in Japan, and according to HRW, just last year Japan’s Ministry of Health released a statement defending its policy.
“The Special Cases Act stipulates the inability to reproduce as a requirement based on the judgment that, upon recognizing a change in legal gender status, it is inappropriate that the reproductive capability of the former gender is maintained, or that the reproductive gland is functioning, secreting gender hormones of the former gender,” the ministry wrote.
“In other words, when a person, after having had a change in legal gender status recognized, procreates using the reproductive function of the former gender, it may give rise to confusion and various problems.”
Basically, the statement argued that the provision prevents confusion and the possibility of medical problems arising due to thegender change.
The fact that other countries don’t have such laws doesn’t seem to bother the Japanese at all.
For better or worse, this is the law in Japan, and it doesn’t appear the nation has any interest in changing it.
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