Forced sterilization and gender identity in Japan

Written with extracts from Forbes Japan

March 30th 2018

Under the “former eugenic protection law” (1948-96), problems have been widely reported on infertility surgery being forced by some people with mental retardation. “It is such a savage thing happening in Japan …” “It’s too terrible” “I am nothing other than a human rights violation” I hear such a voice.

However, do you know that there is a law that forces unwanted infertility surgery now? The so-called “special sexual identity disorder method” (established in 2003). In order to have their gender identity (sexual identity) legally recognized, transgender people need to proceed to change family register in accordance with this law.

The Japanese government has joined the global trend to improve the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), gradually improving domestic policies and supports international efforts. However, the “special law on sexual identity disorder” that sets out gender identification procedures (that is, change of family register) is one of the bad points of Japan’s progress towards the past.

In order to establish their own gender identity, the transgender who wishes to change the family register needs to file a petition to the family court based on the so-called “special law on gender identity disorder”. When this law was passed more than 10 years ago it was a landmark event for Japan’s sexual minorities.

However, this procedure included requirements for infringement and discrimination of fundamental human rights. It is a requirement that it is an adult who is not married, undergoes a psychiatric diagnosis that there is no child, “Gender identity disorder” (GID), and undergoes sterilization surgery.

“Special law for sexual identity disorder” obliges “to have no gonads or permanently lack the function of the gonads” as a requirement for legal gender change (change of family register), but this It corresponds to “compulsory infertility”.

It is widely criticized by various international organizations dealing with health and human rights, including the World Health Organization (WHO), without waiting for “forced infertility” to be a human rights violation. The UN Special Rapporteur on torture said in 2013 that transgenders’ people obliged them to undergo sterilization which is often undesirable as a requirement for change to the gender they desire is a human rights violation, To “sterilize surgery compulsed or forced in every case to be illegal and to specifically protect individuals belonging to the peripheralized group”.

In Japan, it was reported that in 2016, the parliamentary parliamentarian bipartisan group will begin discussion towards relaxing the requirement of “special law on sexual identity disorder”, but it has not been fully implemented and has not revised the law . On the other hand, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare notes that Japan advances the protection of the rights of LGBT, in response to a letter on “special law on sexual identity disorder” sent by the UN Special Rapporteur on Health and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture two years ago I was proud to say that.

However, since the Government of Japan defends the current medical model and the procedure of changing family register and needs “objectivity and certainty” when judging whether a person is truly a transgender, ie, worthy of legal recognition.

Forcing unwanted surgery as a condition of change of family register is contrary to the human rights obligation of the Japanese government. And, in 2020, against the image “the country that defends the human rights of LGBT” that the Japanese government is about to advance toward the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games.

It is true that there are transgender people who want infertile surgery, but it is nothing but a human rights violation that the state forces them to transgender people who do not want sterilization surgery. Since the relief of victims of forced sterilization surgery by the “eugenic protection law” has been debated, forced sterilization surgery should also be stopped by “exception method of gender identity disorder”. It is necessary to revise this law right now.

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