Common Sense Prevails: Taiwan is adopting the Norwegian model

In 2017, Taiwan’s supreme court ruled that there was no argument against marriage equality, a decision which forced the government to write new legislation or marriage equality would become law by default.  While the current legislation is lacking (the only non-cishetero foreigners who can marry Taiwanese people are those whose country has marriage equality), it is being changed.

As of last Thursday, the supreme court has also made the decision that Transgender and Non-Binary people should not be forced to obtain surgery and sterlization in order to obtain legal gender recognition, to change of names and gender on documentation.  This is the law in Norway and a few other places.  Considering the discrimination in housing and employment that Transgender and Non-Binary people face which leads to poverty, it was onerous to demand that we pay for expensive surgeries before being guaranteed human rights protections.

Having full legal human rights protections will help people live more stable lives, get better jobs and earn more if they still or want to pay for surgery.  Or NOT pay for surgery if they don’t want to have it.

The decision is still imperfect, since Taiwan’s identity and documentation system only provides “male” and “female”, when it should include at least a third option that other countries have.  But it’s a big step in the proper direction.

Court Rules Against Laws Requiring Proof of Surgery, Sterilization for Changing Legal Gender

THE TAIPEI HIGH Administrative Court ruled against laws requiring transgender people to provide proof of surgery to change their legal gender this afternoon [September 23]. The announcement was made shortly after 4 PM, with a decision in favor of the plaintiff, known as Xiao E.

Xiao E was represented by the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR), the organization that represented longtime LGBTQ activist Chi Chia-wei in the case that resulted in the legalization of gay marriage in Taiwan two years ago. Xiao E had filed a lawsuit after she was not allowed to change her gender from male to female on her national ID card without proof of surgery at the Daxi Household Registration Office in Taoyuan. This resulted in an administrative lawsuit being filed in March of this year, with the TAPCPR announcing a petition on the issue on April 1st, timed to coincide with International Trans Day of Visibility. The TAPCPR will hold a formal press conference on the ruling tomorrow morning.

Previous laws required proof of surgery in order to be allowed to legally change one’s gender, which included specifying what body parts needed to be surgically removed to qualify for being able to legally change one’s gender. Transgender women were required to surgically remove their penis and testicles while transgender men were required to surgically remove their breasts, uterus, and ovaries. A mental health evaluation from two psychiatric specialists was also required.

Nevertheless, one notes that ROC law demonstrates a highly biological view of gender, when many transgender individuals may identify as a different gender than that which they were identified at birth but may not wish to undergo surgery. Previous laws also necessitated the sterilization of those that wished to legally change their gender, as well as imposing the cost of surgery upon them.

To this extent, the TAPCPR argued that the surgery requirement was in defiance of international human rights conventions that Taiwan has ratified, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The TAPCPR further pointed to legal precedents elsewhere, such as in the European Union, in which the European Court of Human Rights struck down similar regulations on the basis that they violated human rights protections. For its part, the Ministry of the Interior’s interpretation asserted the right to equality, privacy, and personal freedoms protections with regards to the ruling.

I have a suspicion this ruling will only apply to Taiwanese citizens, not to foreigners with ARCs and APRCs. Even so, I’m happy that people will now have legal protections when it comes to employment, housing and other places they often face discrimination.

New Bloom Mag (a Taiwan LGBTQ+ publication) posted a follow up item on Friday:

LGBTQ+ Groups Celebrate Ruling Against Surgery Requirement for Legal Gender Change

THIS MORNING AT 10:00 AM, the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR) hosted a press conference regarding yesterday afternoon’s Taipei High Administrative Court ruling against regulations requiring proof of surgical intervention to change one’s legal gender. The historic ruling in favor of plaintiff Xiao E found existing legal gender change regulations to be unconstitutional. Assuming that this ruling does not get appealed, Xiao E will be able to change her legal gender and become Taiwan’s first transgender woman to do so without submitting proof of surgery.

[. . .]

[T]he Taipei High Administrative Court will issue formal written judgments to both parties within two weeks. The Daxi Household Registration Office can submit an appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court within twenty days upon receiving the written judgment. Press conference participants speculate that it is unlikely that yesterday’s ruling will get appealed since government officials have already expressed their support for eliminating the surgery requirement for changing one’s legal gender.

How badly will the heads of TERFs and other bigoted scum explode over this one?  Or are they too busy spreading hateful propaganda to notice?

The TERFs and bigots certainly haven’t noticed that all of the known or rumoured sexual predators and rapists in Taiwan (Taiwanese and foreigners) have been cishetero binary males.



  1. Bruce says

    Thinking about it, there has been no point to any government bothering to keep any notes on anyone’s gender since the 1960s. Maybe before that, a gender notation on ID made as much sense as height, weight, hair color, or eye color. But now we have platform shoes, common weight gain, hair dye, and colored contact lenses or sunglasses. And trying to ID a man by looking for his crew cut went out with the long haired hippie generation. Plus, everyone carries a cell phone. So it’s like asking for your toe prints or your dog’s nose print. In theory it might have had a point a half century ago. But in practice it’s like organizing a phone book alphabetically based on everyone’s father’s job title, because “everyone” would know that best, because we all live in the same village of 200 people that our ancestors did 500 years ago.
    Wait, why is everyone in the FBI database listed under “farmer”?

  2. robert79 says

    Indeed, I don’t get why the government needs to know your gender. The only two reasons I can think of are:
    – whether to call you “Ms.” or “Mr.” on any official communication
    – to filter out potential suspects in a criminal investigation
    The first can easily be covered by just asking how people would like to be addressed, or by some non-gendered term (I must admit I don’t know any outside of academic titles…) But really, is it even necessary?
    The second is actually not very effective (people may be mistaken when they say “a man stole my purse”) and it’s effectively treating every citizen as a suspect, which is something only a police state would do.

  3. Silentbob says

    Ha. I have to admit to being taken aback by your title. In other contexts, the “Nordic model” is a typical TERF/SWERF “my ideology trumps human well-being” idea that makes life hell for sex workers.

    • says

      I was alluding to that because of the poorly written original marriage equality law. Why should I be allowed to marry a Taiwanese person because Canada has marriage equality, but not someone from (for example) Honduras where they might be murdered for being LGBTQIA? That’s going to change, but should never have happened.