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Six people who underwent sex-change operations have separately filed petitions at four family courts in eastern Japan to change their gender as recorded in family registrations, it was learned Thursday.

According to sources familiar with the cases, the six claim they experience difficulties in daily life as their legal gender remains unchanged despite their operations.

The court’s handling of the petitions may test the extent to which Japanese society accepts sex changes.

The six, aged between 20 and 50, filed the petitions with the Tokyo Family Court and other family courts in the Kanto and Tohoku areas.

They include four people who were legally transformed from women to men at Saitama Medical School. The remaining two, now a man and a woman, had their operations overseas.

The six have had trouble getting jobs and traveling overseas due to differences between their appearances and their registered sex on official documents, the sources said.

They cannot marry and their constitutional right to “pursue happiness” has been violated, the sources added.

The Family Registration Act stipulates that registrations can be corrected when “mistakes” are found. Courts, however, have repeatedly rejected such petitions recently, saying sexual identity in registrations is determined by sexual organs and chromatids. An amendment to the register has been approved in at least one case.

There are no court statistics on such cases because court procedures are closed to the public.

Courts tend to approve corrections in cases where it is difficult to determine whether sexual organs are male or female.

The six claim that courts should acknowledge their disorders because, as far as they are concerned, their real sexual identities were not known at the time of registration.

One of the six, 37-year-old Masae Torai, told a news conference in Tokyo on Thursday that, “some people cannot even go to hospitals because they hate showing their health insurance card. It is a problem concerning our lives.”

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