Setagaya OKs transsexual’s election bid

A transsexual living socially as a female became on Sunday the first person in Japan to register as an election candidate under a gender different from that listed on their official family registry.

Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward election administration committee officially accepted candidacy registration from Aya Kamikawa, 35, who has gender identity disorder and now considers herself a woman. Kamikawa will run as a female candidate in the April 27 ward assembly election.

The committee’s chief made the final decision on the official registration day Sunday in line with an earlier opinion from the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry, which oversees elections in Japan.

The ministry concluded April 11 that if the candidate refuses to change the gender information to match that on the family registry, even after the committee had advised so, there would be no choice but to accept the application as is.

As the Public Offices Election Law is a national law, the ward’s election committee had referred the case to the ministry after Kamikawa presented registration documents for a preliminary check on March 25 with the gender field left blank.

Although the election law does not require candidates to state their gender, there is a space on the registration form for them to do so, which candidates normally complete in accordance with the gender listed in their family registry.

Kamikawa said earlier that she was grateful for the ministry’s decision.

But even though Kamikawa will be running as a female, the ministry has indicated that her gender would have to be listed as “male” in election records and in the ward election committee’s reports, the committee’s secretariat said earlier.

Meanwhile, the ward’s election administration committee decided to begin removing the gender field from some documents, including from the announcement of candidacy filings posted on the ward’s bulletin board.

Ward officials said Kamikawa’s bid to become a candidate in the election prompted their debate on whether the gender field is necessary in the documents.

Some local authorities, such as the city of Koganei in western Tokyo, have decided to begin removing the gender field from some official documents in consideration of GID patients and transsexuals.

Kamikawa is on a hospital waiting list to undergo a sex-change operation this year.

She decided to run in the election to raise public awareness of patients with GID and transsexuals. She also wants to highlight the inconvenience and humiliation caused by documents that reveal gender at birth.

Under the Family Registration Law, registers can only be corrected when “mistakes” are found.

Kamikawa was allowed to take on a female name in October 1999 after being diagnosed with GID the previous year. She was prohibited, however, from changing her registered gender.

In 2001, six people with GID who had sex-change operations filed civil suits seeking to have their new genders recorded in their family registers. Three of the six had their requests rejected in August, December 2002 and January 2003.