A top court in Japan has ruled that mandatory sterilization of people seeking to change their gender is unconstitutional.
The court decision follows reports from several international human rights organizations that the requirement was discriminatory and infringed upon human rights. These organizations included the United Nations and Association for Transgender Health.
Prior to the court decision, Japanese law required that those seeking to transition must present a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and meet five core requirements, including: being at least 18 years of age, not being married, not having underage children, having genital organs that resemble those of the opposite gender, and having no reproductive glands or ones that have permanently lost their function.
Many of these laws would prevent a lot of people from transitioning, but the strangest requirements are those attempting to regulate the reproductive systems of transgender individuals. To require that these people have “genital organs that resemble those of the opposite gender,” would essentially mean someone seeking to legally change their gender would have to obtain gender-affirming surgery. On top of this, the removal of reproductive organs is meant to prevent the production of offspring from trans families. The plaintiff’s lawyers argued that this requirement puts unnecessary physical and financial strain on those seeking to transition.
According to reports from The Guardian, this decision arrives at a point of “heightened awareness” of LGBTQ+ issues in Japan. “Activists have increased efforts to pass an anti-discrimination law since a former aide to the prime minister, Fumio Kishida, said in February that he would not want to live next to LGBTQ+ people and that citizens would flee Japan is same-sex marriage were allowed.”