Japanese Requiring Transgenders to Be Sterilized

Kirsters Baish| The government in Japan is much different from that of the United States of America. The difference in attitude towards transgender people is night and day. The United States government has worked extremely hard to establish an inclusive society in which transgender men and women are able to benefit from certain rights. Things are not the same in Japan.

According to a legal requirement that was cited by the Human Rights Watch, in Japan, if someone is trying to legally change their gender, they will be subject to sterilization. 

It was also reported by the Human Rights Watch that a law was passed in 2003 which made it a requirement for “gender-change” applicants to “permanently lack functioning gonads.” The Human Rights organization also made note that there are multiple health organizations around the world, which include the United States World Health Organization, that have condemned the requirement.

A report was published four years ago by the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which also included information on the practice. 

Then-Rapporteur Juan E. Méndez explained, “In many countries transgender persons are required to undergo often unwanted sterilization surgeries as a prerequisite to enjoy legal recognition of their preferred gender.”

It was also written in the report 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.”

A trans rights organization that is based out of Europe and is called Transgender Europe, explained that this was very “strong language” for the United Nations at the time that it came out.

The Special Rapporteur concluded by urging all nations “to outlaw forced or coerced sterilization in all circumstances and provide special protection to individuals belonging to marginalized groups.”

Despite all of this information, the sterilization law is still in effect in the country of Japan. The Human Rights Watch explains that last year, Japan’s Ministry of Health actually released a statement which defended their policy.

The statement read, “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. 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.”

What it boils down to is that the statement argued that this specific provision stops confusion as well as the possibility of any medical issues that may come out of gender change surgery. The Japanese do not seem bothered by the fact that other countries don’t have similar laws to gender changes.

Whether you agree with the Japanese or not, it doesn’t seem like their laws are going to be changing anytime soon, but with human rights groups so active these days, we won’t know until it happens.