Henry Mills

A transgender man is suing over having to be forcibly sterilised in order to have his gender legally recognised in Japan.

Japanese newspaper The Mainichi reports that on 11 October, Gen Suzuki made the request through the Shizuoka Family Court.

Suzuki has already undergone hormone replacement therapy and top surgery, but due to a “heavy impact on physical and mental health” does not want bottom surgery.

“It is wrong for the state to force an unwanted surgery,” Suzuki told the newspaper. “There should be various options.”

Suzuki and his female partner are hoping to get married, which under current law would require him to undergo the surgery to legally change his gender.

If his legal request is dismissed, the 46-year-old has said he is willing to take his claim to the country’s Supreme Court.

Currently, changes to family registers and someone’s gender identity require permission from family courts to be formally recognised.

In 2019, the Supreme Court in Japan heard an appeal from Takakito Usui, a trans man, who said sterilisation was unconstitutional.

The court ruled against him, stating that the requirement is “meant to reduce confusion in families and society.”

Despite this, two of the four top justices in the case suggested regular reviews of the law in line with a changing society.

The Gender Identity Disorder Special Cases Act, which Japan passed in 2004, lists five things trans people must do in order to legally change their gender.

Those applying must be at least 20-years-old, have their reproductive organs removed, must not be married or have a child and must have a body that is “endowed with genitalia that closely resemble the physical form of an alternative gender.”

This remains in place despite the term “gender identity disorder” no longer being used as a medical diagnosis by most medical establishments.

Additionally, in 2014 the World Health Organisation (WHO) called for coercive or involuntary sterilisation to be stopped – as well as for respect of transgender people’s right to remain fertile.