The Taipei High Administrative Court on Thursday sought a constitutional interpretation regarding a lawsuit filed by a transgender woman seeking to change the gender identification on her ID card.
The court halted the suit filed by Taipei resident Wu Yu-hsun (吳宇萱), who was seeking an administrative ruling on her application to alter the gender on her ID card after it was denied by a city household registration office in November last year.
The court sought an interpretation of the Constitution on the issue, saying that the provisions regarding gender determination under the Household Registration Act (戶籍法) are not applicable, which contradicts the Constitution.
On Nov. 20 last year, Wu applied to change the gender on her ID card from male to female at the Zhongzheng District (中正) Household Registration Office. The request was rejected because she failed to provide a medical certificate to show that she had undergone sex reassignment surgery.
Wu filed a suit with the administrative court, becoming the second person to seek such a change through litigation.
The first was a transgender woman who goes by the name “Siao E” (小E). She took her case to the Taipei High Administration Court after the Dasi District (大溪) Household Registration Office in Taoyuan denied her application in October 2019, saying she must provide proof of sex reassignment surgery.
On Sept. 23, the court ruled in her favor, ordering the office to change the gender on her ID card. Last month, the office decided not to appeal and changed her card.
On Thursday, the three members of the collegiate bench on Wu’s case — Hsiao Chung-jen (蕭忠仁), Lee Ming-yi (李明益) and Lo Yueh-chun (羅月君) — delivered their ruling after discussions and testimony from Wu that the laws regarding gender determination were inapplicable, which contradicted the Constitution.
The bench has the responsibility to ensure that the rights of people such as Wu, who require their gender to be redefined, would be protected by the Constitution, the ruling said.
It said that the Ministry of the Interior had commissioned a panel of experts and academics in September 2013 to research the gender registration system as it pertains to transgender people.
Despite the panel presenting a reform report two years later, the issue remains in the research phase at the Cabinet’s Gender Equality Committee, the ruling said.
As such, the fundamental rights of people to decide their gender have “not been protected by national laws,” it said.
Requiring that a person remove their sexual organs as the only way to alter the gender on their official documents shows a “lack of clear legal authorization,” and is an “inappropriate restriction” against the fundamental right of applicants unwilling to change their body by surgery, it said.
That violates the principles of legal reservation, proportion and equality, the ruling said, urging lawmakers to fix the long-term problem of legal inaction on people’s right to gender determination.
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