Encyclopedia of Sex and Genderij^@2002,12,19,e

Transsexuality and Transgender in Japan


In 1969, a Japanese gynecologist was tried and found guilty of performing SRS (sexual reassignment surgery) for three Male-to-Female transsexuals. Since then, medical treatment and even discussion of transsexuality has been practically a taboo in Japan. For this reason some transsexuals have gotten their SRS in other countries, while others have received hormonal therapy and/or SRS underground at home.
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This situation, however, is now changing. In 1998, Dr. Harashina performed the first SRS in Japan that was legally admitted. Today, Japan has two gender clinics that perform SRS in Saitama Medical College and Okayama University Hospital. From 1998 to 2002 over 1000 transsexuals and transgenders came to gender clinics and about twenty transsexuals got SRS. However, because it takes long time to follow Japanese guidelines, there are still many transsexuals who receive SRS in other countries. Estimates are that there are about 500 post-operative transsexuals in Japan.
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Change of sex registration of transsexuality is still very difficult. Recently, Saitama Family Court has rejected an appeal of change of sex registration of an FTM who got legally admitted SRS.
The main reason of rejection is gbiological etiology of transsexuality is not clearh. In his decision, the judge stated that, gI hesitate to admit the change of sex registration.h

However, there is now a new movement in the Diet. Some lawmakers have set up a study-team to make a new law about changing a transsexualfs sex registration. Last year, gKinpachii Senseih, a very popular school television drama spotlighted an FTM student and a famous professional boat-racer came out that he was an FTM. These nation-wide topics teach us that Japanese have a positive attitude toward transsexuals and transgenders. With these developments, the situation for transsexuals and transgenders in Japan continues to improve. For additional discussion on sex reassignment surgery in Japan, see Ako et al. (2001).