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Transgender Woman Granted Long-Term Residency In Japan.

Japan has issued the country's first long-term residential visa to a transgender person, said the woman's lawyer, Miho Kumazawa. The name and nationality of the woman have not been made public. Such visas are normally awarded to foreigners who marry a Japanese citizen but because Japan does not recognize same-sex marriages, the woman was not legally married.

The person and her partner have been living together since 2002 and their attempt to notarize a same-sex partnership agreement in 2016 was not successful. The 58-year-old Southeast Asian woman has been living illegally in Japan for over 25 years.

The discrimination that transgender people face is often the result of confusion over what transgenderism is. Uninformed people may try to categorize it incorrectly as sexual orientation, as in a person being gay, lesbian, straight or even asexual and involving the physical, romantic, emotional, or spiritual attraction to another person. Transgenderism involves one's gender identity or personal sense of being a male or a female. It is a solo journey, but transgender people still have all the orientation options available to them.

Sexual reassignment surgery had its beginnings in the early part of the 20th century and is now an option for those who first undergo a psychological evaluation plus live as their desired gender for a period in real life conditions. European countries like Spain, Sweden and even Germany tend to be a bit more progressive toward transgender people while Japan ranks quite low in their acceptance. In Japan, they are given no recognition as such.

This case may represent a change in attitudes for Japan and Kumazawa credits the court's sympathy with his client getting the long-term residence permit.

Kumazama commented, "Had she been single, she would have not been awarded this visa. But the government considered the reality of her relation to her partner, rather than its legality on paper." He expressed hope that the case would lead to improved legal protection for same-sex couples and called it "a very big step forward."

According to( a report by Human Rights Watch , an international non-governmental organization headquartered in New York City, transgender people in Japan face widespread discrimination. It points to the Gender Identity Disorder Special Cases Act, enacted 15 years ago, that requires them to undergo invasive surgeries, including sterilization, to be legally recognized according to their gender identity.

The case may be a signal that regular Japanese citizens are becoming more accepting of transgender people. A survey by the Williams Institute at UCLA's law school and Ipsos in 2016 showed that more than half of Japanese respondents said transgender people should be legally recognized.

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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Sep 4, 2019
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