On 23 September 2021, the court ruled in favor of Xiao E in response to her lawsuit for legal gender change. Xiao E was represented by the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR). Since the defendant (Household Registration Office of Daxi District) did not appeal, the ruling has been confirmed. The plaintiff, Xiao E, accompanied by TAPCPR on 18 November 2021 to change her legal gender at the Household Registration Office of Daxi District, making her the first transwoman in Taiwan to change her legal gender without providing proof of surgery.
This win is of great significance to transgender rights in Taiwan. According to an executive order issued by the Ministry of the Interior in 2008, two diagnostic certificates provided by licensed psychiatrists, along with proof of sex-reassignment surgery must be provided in order to legally change one’s gender.
Since Taiwan has signed and implemented many international human rights conventions such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), at the national review meeting international human rights experts who came to Taiwan encouraged the Taiwanese government to abolish the mandatory surgery requirement for legal gender change. Nevertheless, the government has so far failed to amend the executive order mentioned above.
The court’s ruling specifically indicated that the Ministry of Interior’s requirement to remove one’s sex organs before legally being able to change one’s gender violates the principle of reservation of statutory power. Meanwhile, forcing citizens to go through sex-reassignment surgery has seriously violated their right to health, personal traits, and human dignity. Relevant regulations also violate the principles of proportionality and equality. Therefore, in no way do the courts need to follow an executive order that is unconstitutional.
The ruling specifically pointed out that the plaintiff, Xiao E, has provided enough evidence to prove her gender identity. As a nation based on the rule of law, the court has the right to order the Household Registration Office of Daxi District to change Xiao E’s legal gender so that her rights are not further violated.
Xiao E was deeply moved after receiving her new ID and expressed appreciation to TAPCPR and other human rights groups for their help and support. Now she can finally live her true identity and no longer have to worry about “gender policing” in everyday life.
TAPCPR lawyer Victoria Hsu explained that, even though the ruling is significant in terms of human rights, it is only legally effective for Xiao E and does not extend to other cases. If the Ministry of Interior refuses to amend the unconstitutional executive order, other transgender people still will not be able to legally change their gender without providing proof of surgery.
TAPCPR Secretary-General Chih-Chieh Chien thanks the court for such a brave ruling, and affirms the Household Registration Office of Daxi District for not appealing. These key decisions have freed Xiao E’s life from unnecessary suffering. We hope that the Taiwanese government can amend the unconstitutional administrative order as soon as possible based on the spirit of humanity and the rule of law, thereby preventing transgender people from continuing to live under the risk and pain of being forced to come out.