In March, Japan became the first country in the world to elect a transgender man to a public office after 25-year-old Tomoya Hosoda won 21 out of 22 seats to become a councilor for the city of Iruma, in the central region of Kanto.
History was made but the fact of the matter remains that the Japanese government still forces transgender people to list themselves as someone living with a mental disorder.
In a recent report, Human Rights Watch notes how Japanese transgender people, who want their gender to be legally recognized, could do so, as long as they underwent sterilization.
Conditions for the procedure include single people, without children, under 20 and above, who would have to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to receive a diagnosis of “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID), and then undergo an invasive surgery so that they “permanently lack functioning gonads."
Critics say the law essentially forces an individual to undergo invasive surgery in order to live as the gender they identify with.
In 2013, Juan E. Méndez, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, said, "In many countries transgender persons are required to undergo often unwanted sterilization surgeries as a prerequisite to enjoy legal recognition of their preferred gender," adding the practice amounted to human rights violations and that governments that enforce it must end it.
In February - nearly a month before Hosoda made political history in Japan, a transgender man, Takakito Usui, from Shinjo, Okayama, appealed against a court decision when he was told to be sterilized in order to have his gender legally recognized.
"The essential thing should not be whether you have had an operation or not, but how you want to live as an individual," Usui said.
Banner / Thumbnail : Thomas Peter, Reuters