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High Court OKs Transgender Amendments

Posted June. 23, 2006 04:06,   


The Supreme Court has accepted transgenders’ sex-amendment requests on family registers.

Their purpose is not to give disadvantages on employment or social status to those who changed their sex.

The Supreme Court reversed an original verdict on June 22 that had ruled against sex-amendment request on family register filed by “A,” who changed sex from female to male through surgery, and returned the case to Cheongju District Court.

A judge panel stated that transgenders have the right to purse happiness with dignity and value as humans and the right to have a life worthy of a human being, and that according to a constitutional principle, those who are recognized to have changed sex can change their sex on family registers.

The panel explained that the family register act contains no procedure to change transgenders’ sex, but a basic principle says that genuine identity should be stated on family register and that therefore, changed sex on family register does not affect their original identity, right or duty.

The panel went on to say that the best way to ease transgenders’ anguish is to allow sex changes on paper through legal interpretation coinciding with the constitution rather than give up transgenders’ legal redemption due to no legislative measures.

Justices Sohn Ji-yeol and Park Jae-yun maintained in a counterview that in a situation where there are no legislative measures prescribing sex change conditions, the court’s selective permission of family register amendment in an individual case could hurt legal stability.

The Supreme Court privately heard opinions on sex changes from Lee Mu-sang, Professor of Urology at Yonsei University and Reverend Park Young-ryul as references.

Meanwhile, the Office of Military Manpower Administration announced on June 22 that they will not impose obligatory military service on those who changed their sex from male to female on family registers, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Even those who changed their sex to female on family registers after receiving their draft call do not have to serve in the military and on the contrary, those who changed their sex from female to male on paper should go through a conscription examination as military service candidates.

Also, the Office of Military Manpower Administration added that if military service candidates who changed their sex from female to male on paper show up at a conscription examination disguising themselves as women by putting on lipstick and wearing a skirt to avoid military service, they will be prosecuted.

Ji-Seong Jeon Sang-Ho Yun verso@donga.com ysh1005@donga.com