Japanese woman sues after boss outs her as transgender to colleagues

A Japanese woman has filed a lawsuit against the Osaka hospital where she works after her boss revealed to colleagues that she is transgender.

Japan Today reported that she is now demanding the hospital operator pay 12 million yen ($113,000) for the “undue emotional distress” she suffered as a result.

According to the lawsuit submitted to the Osaka District Court on August 30, the woman, who is not named, was assigned male at birth but identified as female from a young age.

She underwent gender confirmation surgery when she was in her 20s and legally changed her gender status to female in 2004.

Now in her 40s, she began working at the hospital in 2013 and was urged by her boss to disclose her birth-assigned gender to colleagues.

She told her superior that it was unnecessary to reveal this information as she had already officially changed her gender on her family register. But her boss reportedly ignored her wishes and told colleagues without her consent.

The woman is suing her employer for “undue emotional distress” (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

She claims she was later harassed by colleagues, with one telling her “it feels gross” to get changed in the same room with her.

The backlash caused significant emotional distress and the plaintiff reportedly attempted suicide in February 2019, resulting in a serious injury.

The lawsuit alleges that the hospital operator failed to educate employees on transgender issues and violated a law obliging companies to maintain a safe working environment.

“We’d like to respond sincerely and appropriately after confirming the complaint,” the hospital operator said.

Tokyo Pride

Tokyo Rainbow Pride, 2019. (Alessandro Di Ciommo/NurPhoto/Getty)

Transgender rights in Japan

Compared to other Asian countries, Japan is relatively progressive when it comes to LGBT+ rights.

However, transgender people face numerous obstacles, including being forced to be sterilised before they can legally change their gender.

They are also required to have “a body which appears to have parts that resemble the genital organs of those of the opposite gender.”

The law has been condemned by the Human Rights Watch as “regressive and harmful“, but Japan’s Supreme Court voted to uphold it earlier this year.

Discrimination on the basis of gender identity is banned in certain Japanese cities, but gender identity is not protected by national civil rights laws.

A recent study found that 90 percent of transgender jobseekers in Japan experience problems.