National

Transgender worker sues Osaka hospital after supervisor told colleagues she transitioned to female

Kyodo

A woman sued the operator of an Osaka hospital where she works on Friday, claiming she suffered undue emotional distress after her boss revealed to colleagues she had transitioned some years earlier due to her gender dysphoria.

In a damages lawsuit filed with the Osaka District Court, the woman in her 40s demanded the hospital operator in Osaka Prefecture pay some ¥12 million, according to the complaint.

Assigned male at birth, she identified as a woman from a young age and underwent gender reassignment surgery when she was in her 20s, the complaint said. She changed her gender status to female on her official family register in 2004.

She started working as a nursing assistant at the hospital in October 2013 and was urged by her superior to disclose her assigned gender at birth.

Though she told her boss it was unnecessary to reveal the information because she had officially changed her gender on her family register, the boss went ahead and told their colleagues without her consent.

She claims she was later harassed by colleagues, with one telling her, “It feels gross” to get changed in the same room with her, the complaint said.

The plaintiff attempted suicide in February, resulting in a serious injury, according to the case file.

The woman claims the hospital operator failed to educate its employees on dealing with such circumstances and violated a law obliging companies to maintain a safe working environment.

“We’d like to respond sincerely and appropriately after confirming the complaint,” the hospital operator said.

In Japan, the act of revealing a person’s sexual orientation or details about their gender identity without their consent has been a long-running issue.

In 2015, a graduate law student at Hitotsubashi University had a panic attack and fell to his death from a university building after he was outed as gay by another student to a group of about 10 peers on a messaging app.

His parents sought damages against the university, but the Tokyo District Court rejected the suit, judging the university had not failed in its responsibility to secure a safe environment for its students.

Kunitachi, in western Tokyo, which hosts the university, introduced in April last year an ordinance that states someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity should not be disclosed against their will.

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