Court seeks constitutional interpretation on gender change on IDs

The Taipei High Administrative Court has ordered a halt to the legal proceedings of a case in which a transgender woman has requested the gender on her ID card to be changed from male to female, and decided to apply for a constitutional interpretation on the issue.

The court was hearing the case on Thursday in which Taipei resident Wu Yu-hsun (???) was seeking an administrative ruling on her application for the ID card alteration after it was denied by a city household registration office in November last year.

While ordering a halt to the case, the court also sought an interpretation of the Constitution on the issue, arguing that the provisions regarding gender determination under the Household Registration Act are not applicable, which contradicts Taiwan's Constitution.

On Nov. 20, 2020, Wu applied for a change to the gender on her ID card from male to female at the Zhongzheng District Household Registration Office in Taipei. The request was rejected because she failed to provide a medical certificate as proof of successful sex reassignment surgery as required.

Wu then filed a suit with the administrative court to become the second individual in Taiwan to seek this change on her ID card through administrative litigation.

The first was a transgender woman, who identifies herself as "Xiao E" (?E), who had taken her case to the Taipei High Administration Court after the Daxi District Household Registration Office in Taoyuan denied her application in October 2019 because she was unable to provide proof of sex reassignment surgery.

On Sept. 23 this year, the court ruled in her favor in an unprecedented verdict, ordering the office to allow the gender on her ID card to be changed. In mid-November the office decided not to appeal, making the ruling final.

On Thursday the three members of the collegiate bench handling Wu's case, Hsiao Chung-jen (???), Lee Ming-yi (???), and Lo Yueh-chun (???), delivered the ruling after discussions and collecting testimony from Wu that the existing laws regarding gender determination were inapplicable, which contradicted the Constitution.

The bench has the responsibility to ensure that the rights of individuals like Wu, who require their gender to be redefined, will be protected by the Constitution, according to its ruling.

It said that the Ministry of the Interior had commissioned experts and scholars in September 2013 to conduct research on the gender registration system involving transgender persons, who then presented a reform report two years later.

Despite this, the issue still remains at the research stage in the Cabinet's Gender Equality Committee, the ruling said.

As such, the fundamental right of people to decide their gender on their own "has constantly not been protected by national laws," the ruling said.

It said the legislative gap on the issue clashed with the provisions of the Constitution and the Additional Articles of the Constitution that stipulate the nation should "eliminate sexual discrimination, and further substantive gender equality."

Requiring "having one's sexual organs removed" as the only pathway for the approval of an alteration to the gender on one's official documents is a "lack of clear legal authorization," and is an "inappropriate restriction" against the fundamental right of applicants unwilling to have their body damaged by surgery.

This violates the principles of legal reservation, proportion, and equality, the ruling said, urging action to be taken to fix the long-term problem of legal inaction on people's right to gender determination.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel