Hong Kong stops requiring sex reassignment for rectification of documents for transgender people


Hong Kong’s Supreme Court overturned, on Monday (6), a measure that prevented transgender people from rectifying their gender on identity documents unless they undergo sex reassignment surgeries.

Unanimously, the last legal instance of the territory defined the registration policy as unconstitutional and violating rights.

“The consequence of the measure is to put people in the dilemma of having to decide between suffering constant violence to their right to privacy or undergoing highly invasive and medically unnecessary surgeries, which violates their right to the integrity of the body”, stated the judges in the decision.

The lawsuit was filed by trans activist Henry Tse and another trans man identified only by the letter Q after both were prevented from rectifying their identity documents in Hong Kong. The two underwent psychiatric follow-up, hormone treatments and surgical procedures such as mastectomy, but those responsible for civil records demanded sex reassignment surgery to authorize the formal gender change in the documents – which was refused by the duo.

“Today’s result is justice served late, a Pyrrhic victory. This case should never have happened,” Tse, an activist with the NGO Transgender Equality Hong Kong, said in a statement after the ruling. “I will continue to work to plant the seed of the trans rights movement. I believe that someday we will succeed and welcome the rainbow with open arms.”

“I now have my identity as a man, and it will be much easier to access gender-segregated spaces. I will no longer be questioned and humiliated by being thrown out because of the discrepancy between my identity card and who I am,” Tse said.

Returned to China for 25 years after a century and a half under British rule, Hong Kong has seen the political repression exercised by Beijing in the territory grow, despite the “one country, two systems” arrangement, adopted to guarantee some degree of autonomy and freedoms in the territory.

Last year, the Hong Kong chief executive, John Lee, reinforced the island’s submission to the Chinese regime, highlighting national security as one of his priorities. Lee had been head of security between 2017 and 2021 and one of those responsible for toughening repression of pro-democracy movements in the region.

The authorities’ siege, exercised throughout mainland China, has also reinforced prohibitions related to customs, which goes against the decision of the Hong Kong court this Monday.

In recent years, Beijing authorities have adopted expressions such as “morally corrupt” to refer to celebrities who do not conform to heteronormative behavior, including censoring series such as the American “Friends” in scenes that touch on the subject.

In 2021, guidelines on how artists should behave were officially adopted to ensure that they “observe social morality”, and men considered “effeminate” would receive less media exposure.

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