Fri, Nov 22, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Activists protest surgery to change gender on an ID

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Abbygail Wu, right, and Jiyi Ng, right, of the Intersex, Transgender and Transsexual People Care Association hold up a bannaer with the text “Gender is a right, stop forced gender reassignment surgery” in front of the Ministry of Health and Welfare building yesterday.

Photo: Hsieh Wen-hua, Taipei Times

Gender rights activists congregated outside a conference on sexual violence yesterday to protest against the rule that people must undergo gender reassignment surgery to officially change their gender on identity cards. The activists said the rule was a form of sexual violence.

Holding a giant banner that read: “Gender is a right, stop forced gender reassignment surgery,” gender rights activists rallied outside the conference in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Sindian District (新店), which was organized by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

“The legal requirement that one must have surgery to officially change his or her gender doesn’t do any good, but can only harm the person wanting to change their gender,” said Abbygail Wu (吳伊婷), a member of the Intersex, Transsexual and Transgender People Care Association. “It is essentially a forcible removal of one’s reproductive organs and ability, and it is the person who has to shoulder all the risks of an operation.”

“This is basically a form of violence — and cruel and unusual punishment — imposed on a group of people by the government,” she added.

Wu added that the government also requires a decision on gender to be made for a child born with both male and female reproductive organs.

“What if the gender decision that the parents make is wrong?” she said.

Jiyi Ng (吳芷儀), another member of the association and also Wu’s spouse, said that in response to their prior petition on the issue, ministry officials said that relevant medical professionals could not reach a “consensus” on abolishing the requirement during a meeting.

“Well, there was no consensus either when the requirement was made,” she said. “Not to mention that the requirement is merely an executive order, not a law, and if the ministry really wants to abolish it, it can be done today with an official notice.”

Wu said that nearly 20 countries — including South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Spain, the UK and Argentina — do not require such surgery for gender change.

“Taiwan should follow their example,” she said.

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