OSAKA – About 70 percent of 105 Japanese people who had gender reassignment surgeries abroad and in Japan between 1995 and 2012 said they were satisfied with the results, but 15 percent said they had serious complications or they needed another operation after the procedures, a survey showed.
The survey released Wednesday came as Japan marked the 10th anniversary this month of the special law allowing people with gender identity disorder to modify their gender in their family register provided they had a sex-change operation among other conditions.
This is the first survey of its kind, according to the Japanese Society of Gender Identity Disorder. An expert said, however, that it is impossible to tell whether 15 percent, or 16 people, who reported problems, is a significant figure or not because every patient had a different procedure.
The survey was conducted by gid.jp, an advocacy group of those living with gender identity disorder, from August to October last year through the group’s own website and other venues. The 105 respondents were aged 22-80 and lived in Japan at the time of the survey.
The group organized the survey after a woman in her 20s died after undergoing mastectomy at a now-closed clinic in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward in May last year.
According to the survey, 14 had surgeries at university hospitals in Japan, 34 at clinics in Japan and 42 at hospitals in Thailand. Some had surgeries both in and outside Japan. Those who underwent surgeries between 2010 and 2012 comprised about half of the respondents.
Five people said they had “serious complications” after the surgery, such as urination problems and intestinal blockage. Of the five, two underwent their surgeries at overseas hospitals, another two at small clinics in Japan, and the remainder at several clinics and hospitals in Japan.
One of the persons in the survey — in his 30s who changed his family register record to male from female after the surgery — had his procedure at a Japanese clinic and was left with urination problems.
“The pain was harder than anything,” he said. “I wish I had a thorough explanation before the surgery.”
According to judicial statistics and other data, the number of those who have changed their gender in family register after the surgeries totaled 3,584 between 2004 and 2012.
The survey also showed that only a little over 10 percent had surgeries at well-equipped institutions observing the guidelines established by the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology.
Some overseas hospitals did not listen to complaints by patients after abnormalities were found later, according to the survey. Some in Japan were turned away when they went to different hospitals from the ones they were originally treated after experiencing complications, it said.