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LGBTQ RIGHTS/Court rules in favor of trans man's ID card gender change request

05/30/2024 06:17 PM
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Taipei, May 30 (CNA) The Taipei High Administrative Court on Thursday ruled in favor of a transgender man who sought to alter the gender specified on his identity card and ordered household registration authorities to make the change.

In its ruling, the court revoked the decision by the Household Registration Office in Taipei's Xinyi District to deny the application of a transgender man, identified as "Nemo" (尼莫), to change the gender on his ID card from female to male.

The court also mandated that the office make the gender change on Nemo's ID card in accordance with his request.

In its press release issued on Thursday afternoon, the court said, "The state should respect the freedom of people to determine their gender, provided that doing so does not undermine social order and public interest."

The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR), which provided pro bono support for Nemo, said in a press release that the ruling was a "victory" following a months-long legal battle.

Nemo, who has identified as male since childhood, was cited in the release as expressing excitement about the prospect of being recognized as a man in official documents.

The case was brought to the court in December 2022 after Nemo's application to change the gender on his ID card was rejected in June 2022 and his appeal was denied one month later.

According to the TAPCPR, Nemo's application was rejected because he could not provide proof of having undergone gender reassignment surgery, a requirement he is unable to fulfil due to previously having to undergo an operation following an illness.

Undergoing any additional major surgeries may pose life-threatening risks to Nemo, said the TAPCPR, a Taipei-based NGO dedicated to promoting LGBTQ+ rights.

For individuals transitioning from female to male, the required surgery involves the removal of the breasts, uterus, and ovaries.

The household registration office based its decision on a directive issued by the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) in 2008, which also required applicants wanting to change the gender on their ID card to provide medical certificates issued by two different doctors confirming a gender dysphoria diagnosis.

In the TAPCPR press release, Allison Hsieh (謝孟釗), one of the three attorneys representing Nemo, said she was pleased to see the court recognize the different challenges facing transgender individuals and issue the verdict without requiring Nemo to provide additional certificates.

Hsieh urged the household registration office not to appeal against the ruling and to change Nemo's gender on his ID card to male as soon as possible.

In response to a CNA request for comment, the MOI, which holds supervisory authority over all household registration offices in Taiwan, said briefly it "respects the ruling of the administrative court," without mentioning whether it would appeal or not.

Thursday's verdict marked the second such case in Taiwan handled by the TAPCPR, after the same court issued a landmark ruling in 2021 in favor of the request of a transgender woman known as "Xiao E" (小E) to change the gender on her ID card.

Xiao E shows her old (left) and new ID cards in Taipei on Nov. 19, 2021. File photo courtesy of Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights
Xiao E shows her old (left) and new ID cards in Taipei on Nov. 19, 2021. File photo courtesy of Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights

Transgender is "an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression, or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth," according to the American Psychological Association.

Commenting on the latest ruling, another attorney Neil Pan (潘天慶) said the court once again affirmed that gender identity -- a person's sense of their own gender -- should be recognized to respect human dignity and personal rights and be protected by the country's constitution.

Meanwhile, the third attorney Victoria Hsu (許秀雯) criticized the MOI's directive as "outdated," noting that it had prevented many in similar situations to Nemo and Xiao E from changing the gender on their ID cards.

In Xiao E's case, the household registration office did not file an appeal and she made the gender change on her ID card about two months after the ruling was handed down.

Hsu added that she and others "will continue to work [on this issue] until the gender identity of every individual is equally respected."

(By Teng Pei-ju and Liu Shih-yi)


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