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Japan court issues landmark ruling on transgender parent’s rights

Friday, December 13, 2013
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TOKYO — Japan’s Supreme Court this week ruled that a toddler born to a transgender man and his wife through artificial insemination shall be regarded as their legitimate child.

JapanThe landmark ruling was the first by a Japanese court in the country where there are currently no laws that stipulate who shall be regarded as the father of children born through artificial insemination by donor.

Previous to the court’s decision, the Japanese Justice Ministry had determined that babies born to transgender people and their spouses through artificial insemination were illegitimate, with Ministry officials stating that “it is clear that there are no blood relations between them.”

The disparity however was that children born to men and women undergoing fertility treatments and were conceived through artificial insemination were recognized as the couple’s legitimate offspring.

In the case decided by the Supreme Court, a 31-year-old transgender man and his wife sought registration of their first-born son as their legitimate child at Shiso City Hall, but that city’s municipal government refused the application.

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His wife, also 31, had conceived with sperm donated by a third party. The boy is now 4 years old and the couple also has a second son who was conceived through artificial insemination.

The couple then submitted the same application in Tokyo, where the husband is legally domiciled. Officials refused to register the husband as the boy’s father after discovering on his family register that he was born female and underwent a sex change operation after being diagnosed as suffering from gender identity disorder.

Instead, officials deemed the child as illegitimate and left blank the space to record the father’s name.

On Tuesday, Justice Takehiko Otani ruled that the child and the husband are in a legitimate parent-child relationship, even though they do not have blood relations.

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