EDITORIAL: Court ruling on toilet policy overturned transgender rights: The Asahi Shimbun
A ill-considered High Court decision supporting a ministry’s ban on transgender toilets ignores the need to pay more attention to the challenges facing sexual minorities.
On May 27, the Tokyo High Court ruled that the Economics Ministry’s policy of prohibiting a transgender employee from using a female toilet near her office was not illegal, overturning a ruling by a lower court.
The court recognized that people have the legally protected right to live in society as a sex corresponding to their gender identity. However, he nonetheless endorsed the ministry’s order, which has been in effect for more than a decade, requiring her to use a female toilet on two or more floors of the room where she works.
Supporting long-standing restrictions on her access to a women’s toilet, the court stressed that she had not had gender reassignment surgery and cited the lack of a legal initiative to establish new rules to promote access to public toilets based on gender identity. and legal precedent relating to the matter.
The facts cited in the decision provide no solid basis for the court’s decision.
Sex reassignment surgery is really taxing on the body, a fact that causes many transgender people to either avoid the procedure or give up on the plunge.
The language of the decision, which gives the impression that the complainant should have benefited from the procedure, could lead to a violation of the freedom to suffer physical harm against his will.
If the lack of legal precedence justifies the inability to change outdated rules, many systems in society will never change.
The court ruling shows no recognition of the need to promote progress in society by settling legal disputes or by being proud of the responsibility that the judiciary should assume in this process.
The decision also defended the ministry’s policy by claiming that a government organization operates under different circumstances than private sector companies where senior executives can decide to introduce progressive measures with relative ease.
But this is another example of reverse logic. Since it is a public organization, it is all the more important that the ministry show a stronger commitment to human rights and a greater willingness to adopt measures. progressive than private sector entities.
The Applicant has received feminizing hormone therapy and has a feminine appearance. The decision said it was necessary to ensure that other employees did not feel anxiety about their “sexual safety”.
But no evidence indicating such anxiety among employees was presented to the court.
The Tokyo District Court, which heard the case first, made a more realistic and convincing decision. The lower court declared the ministry’s order illegal, stressing that the possibility of the issue that concerns the ministry is purely speculative.
The ruling also paid attention to changes in Japanese perceptions of transgender people and global trends regarding them.
As it happens, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party recently decided to put aside a bill aimed at promoting a better public understanding of issues concerning sexual minorities, abandoning its plan to submit it to the current session of the Diet.
Through discussions with opposition parties, the LDP agreed to insert a clause prohibiting “discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity” in the bill. But it caused a backlash within the conservative wing of the party.
A former Cabinet member made remarks based on misunderstandings and prejudices, saying that “there have been absurd cases in which a person with a male body has requested access to a women’s toilet.
A lack of understanding of the importance of access to public toilets by gender identity among government, the judiciary and some politicians eloquently underscores the need to establish new gender norms to promote respect for diversity between individuals and greater social inclusion.
–L’Asahi Shimbun, June 1