Japan to fund gender-affirming surgery

Japan Pride parade

The Japanese government has announced that it will now subside gender affirming surgery for some trans people.

Trans and non-binary people will be able to change the gender identity on their cards, and in some cases, will have their gender affirming surgery funded in a new government move, reported Japan Today.

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare notified civil servants that residents can have their surgery covered if they are not receiving hormone treatment and do not have any other pre-existing conditions.


TOKYO, JAPAN – NOVEMBER 05: Japanese couple Koyuki Higashi (L) and Hiroko Masuhara (R) (Photo by Christopher Jue/Getty Images)

Once the surgery is covered by public insurance in Japan, a patient will only need to pay up to 30 percent of the total surgery expenses, reported Japan Times.

Although the move is welcome, the process for gender identity recognition is complex and problematic for trans people in Japan.

Applicants are required to be single and without children under 20, undergo a psychiatric evaluation to receive a diagnosis of “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID).


TOKYO, JAPAN – MAY 06: An attendee high-fives with a supporter during the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

Gender confirmation surgeries vary drastically in price according to procedure.

Bottom surgery costs roughly £13,000 for trans men and trans women, reports Stonewall Japan.

Trans people have to be forcibly sterilised in order to gain recognition of their gender.

As Japan has not legalised same-sex marriage, trans people are left to choose between their fertility or their marital rights.


TOKYO, JAPAN – MAY 06: Attendees take a selfie photo during the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

Human Rights Watch has commenced a campaign to end the damaging practice.

Trans resident Fumino Sugiyama told NBC that he does not want to be sterilised in order to marry his wife.

Although some wards allow for same-sex partnerships, same-sex marriage is illegal in the country.


TOKYO, JAPAN – MAY 06: Attendees take part in the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade on May 6, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan(Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

“For my partner, I want to get married, but because of the law I can’t go through the legal process of getting married,” Sugiyama told the channel.

“I don’t want to have any other surgeries,” he added. “I believe that if I am going to go under surgery I would want to do it for myself and not for anyone else. So I think it’s an absurd idea and law.”