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A transgender woman was referred to prosecutors Thursday for suspected trespassing after using the women’s washroom in a commercial facility in Osaka, in a case an expert on LGBT issues fears might lead to more prejudice and discrimination against sexual minorities.

According to the Osaka Prefectural Police, the commercial facility contacted police after a customer complained that she could not use the women’s restroom because “a man wearing women’s clothes was using it,” causing her “fear.”

The transgender woman in her 40s, who police later confirmed had entered the ladies’ room in May last year, has told investigators she knew she was not supposed to use the facility because her gender is listed as male on her family registry.

Investigative sources said that while she identifies as a woman, she presents as male for work and dresses in women’s clothing on her days off.

Mikiya Nakatsuka, president of the Japanese Society of Gender Identity Disorder, said most transgender people “pay attention when they use toilets at public facilities so they can stay out of trouble.

“I am worried that if this single case draws attention, it might lead to more prejudice and discrimination against them,” said Nakatsuka, who is also a professor of health sciences at Okayama University’s graduate school.

Mikiya Nakatsuka, president of the Japanese Society of Gender Identity Disorder | KYODO
Mikiya Nakatsuka, president of the Japanese Society of Gender Identity Disorder | KYODO

Other experts propose efforts to increase the number of all-gender restrooms.

“Gender identity is invisible, so people cannot help but judge from a person’s appearance on the appropriateness of the use of toilets separated by genders,” said Takashi Kazama, a professor at Chukyo University who is well-versed in sexual diversity issues.

According to the investigative sources, the Osaka Prefectural Police did not seek indictment when they sent papers pertaining to the case, instead leaving the decision on whether to press charges with prosecutors.

An LGBT parade is held in Sapporo in September 2020. | KYODO
An LGBT parade is held in Sapporo in September 2020. | KYODO

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