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Japan Upholds Law: Transgenders Must Be Sterilized

Michael W. Chapman
By Michael W. Chapman | January 25, 2019 | 11:07 AM EST

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On Thursday, Jan. 24, Japan's Supreme Court ruled to uphold existing law that transgender persons who want their gender legally changed on official documents must be sterilized in order to prevent "problems" in parent-child relationships and protect society from "confusion" and "abrupt changes."

As SBS News reported, Law 111, enacted in 2004, stipulates that "any individual wishing to change their documents" must have "no reproductive glands" or at least have "reproductive glands that have permanently lost function," i.e., no testes or ovaries.

The law also "requires the person to have 'a body which appears to have parts that resemble the genital organs of those of the opposite gender,'" reported SBS

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The challenge to Law 111 was brought by Takakito Usui, a transgender man -- a female impersonating a male -- who wants his documents to legally identify him as male. 

The four justices on the Supreme Court dismissed Usui's claim and declared Law 111 to be constitutional. 

Two of the justices also wrote in a separate opinion that Law 111 should be reviewed regularly as Japanese society grapples with sexual identity issues.

Sex-change surgery is subsidized through public insurance in Japan; patients must pay up to 30 percent of the costs, according to Japan Times.  

Michael W. Chapman
Michael W. Chapman
Michael W. Chapman

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