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Top court says transsexual is father of IVF baby


A transsexual man, who was born a woman, has been recognized by Japan's top court as the legal father of his wife's child, in a national first.

The Supreme Court overturned earlier decisions that had rejected the man's bid to be registered as one of the child's parents, and said the fact that a third person's sperm was used in his wife's IVF treatment was not legally material.

The decision opens the door for other transsexuals to gain recognition as fathers, despite their having no biological role in the conception and birth of the child.

In their ruling on Tuesday, the judges said they had to take into account a 2004 law that allowed those diagnosed with gender identify disorder to get their gender changed in legal documents if they fulfilled certain conditions, including undergoing a sex change operation.

"A person recognized as a man, and allowed to change gender to that of a man under this law should be considered to be a man under other laws," the ruling said.

"He not only can marry and become a husband under the civil law but should also be recognized as the father of a child conceived by his wife during their marriage."

The judgement will mean the current practice at local city offices, where the child of a married couple with a transsexual father is registered as illegitimate, will have to be changed.

"I am very happy," the man, whose identity has been withheld, said Thursday. "I can finally become the father of my son in legal documents. We won at the final stage, thanks to the help and support of many others."

Three out of the five justices agreed with the decision, while two opposed it.

Japan maintains an official family registry, which keeps a detailed record of its nationals' personal information, such as birth, residence, marital status, offspring and death.

The registry is based on the unit of a legally married couple and their family, a system that campaigners say badly disadvantages sexual minorities and children born out of wedlock.

This week's ruling follows a September judgement by the supreme court that said a child born outside wedlock should be as entitled to an inheritance as his or her legitimate siblings.

© (c) 2013 AFP

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Japan is slowly moving in the right direction. They still have a loooooooooooooong way to go though.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I applaud this transgendered person for he has figured out what his real gender identity is and acted upon what he believed to be right for him. Even if it's different from what some of his friends or neighbors may believe in and different from what his parents may believe in he stayed true to himself. He has his own opinion. He doesn't worry about what people say about or think about him. He let the naysayers nay for they will eventually grow tired of naying. Life is really what you make it. Congratulations to this gentlemen. It must have taken a lot of courage to follow your heart and intuition.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

A good result for the child.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

"A transsexual man, who was born a woman, has been recognized by Japan’s top court as the legal father of his wife’s child, in a national first." Speaking of weird!!!!!!!!

-13 ( +2 / -15 )

Your father (and mother) is who loves you and raises you to adulthood, biological or otherwise. Ask any adopted and happily raised individual.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Kudos to Japan's Supreme Court for this. The wheels of social progress do grind forward in Japan, it would seem. Slowly, yes, but grind they do.

1 ( +4 / -3 )


2 ( +4 / -2 )

If Japan allows this they need to allow a ton of other situations as well

3 ( +4 / -1 )

big progress here but the very diagnosis that refers to transgender individuals as having a "disorder" (in Japanese it is actually worse--"shogai" or disability)--is a serious problem to begin with. And that they need to have surgery to get legal recognition is outrageously archaic.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I don't know about progress since it is still in keeping with a decision a few years ago where a child of the biological parents could not be the parents since the birth mother was someone else. The child was also not considered a citizen of Japan. Since science plays no role in both decisions, seem pretty normal. Not saying the transgender "father" shouldn't be able to be registered as the father but for the sake of biology and the child future welfare, there should be a note of the biological father in case of genetic problems.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Nothing to do with transexuality, but what happens when the child asks who his/her real father is. This kind of case, ivf, is just an unopened can of worms.

Yeah, sure, it's a feel-good, new-age case. Progress? Rights of the "parents" put above rights of the child. Men become nothing more than bags of sperm, women, bags of eggs. Whatever happened to adoption?

Forgive me for not applauding.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )


-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Fully agree with you, sourpuss. A real can of worms opened here. The kid should be adopted technically. That would be fine but not this PC approach. Might seem right to some but I beg to differ.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

what happens when the child asks who his/her real father is.

What can happen ? A few family discussions as soon as the toddler learns to speak. Just like for adopted kids or those raised by step-parents or other guardians. It's still important for the child to be legally the son, full dependent and later full heir of this man.

Whatever happened to adoption?

Since the 50's, it has become an administrative nightmare in Japanese system. That should be equivalent, in a better world. The decision is the best solution here.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"… the fact that a third person’s sperm was used in his wife’s IVF treatment was not legally material." Except that in biology it surely does.

Cosmetic procedures don't /cannot alter genetics, regardless of political "correctness".

Indeed, the decision opens a Pandora's box of worms. I can't call that progress without severely distorting the meaning of the word.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

As long as this aligns with the same situation for adopted children. Biologically, this man is not the father, but if adopted parents are registered as official parents, then so should this guy.This is also the case for surrogate mothers. What we need here is consistency across all scenarios.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This decision was a big surprise, and a great step in the right direction. But on the other hand, there is potential for abuse.

Japan should quickly enact appropriate legislation around this decision, along the lines of that in Canada and enlightened European countries. On the other hand, if there is no well-thought out strategy to deal with this positive development, Japan might follow the folly of the USA, where one sperm donor can father 100 children.

Trusting this present government to get it right, though, is perhaps wishful thinking.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Im sorry but I cant see how this can be in the best interests of the child.

Despite the fact I am not anti transexual or anything, surely a legal document, like a birth certificate, needs to have correct information on it? Correct meaning biologically accurate.

I know this will make this transexual woman feel better, but surely the child needs to know the truth, and has the right to know, who his biological father is? Im positive two women can raise a child well together, but what if, one day, that child wants to know who fathered him, or needs that information for medical reasons. Doesnt a child also have rights too?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

surely a legal document, like a birth certificate, needs to have correct information on it? Correct meaning biologically accurate.

Don't quote me on this, but I think the legal point here is that any impotent man whose wife uses a donor to conceive (or whose two-timing wife gives birth to another man's child) can put his name on the child's birth certificate as the father, no questions asked - so the problem of biological inaccuracy has always existed. In this case, because the father was clearly registered as having been born female the person behind the counter in the yakuba took it on him/herself to refuse the registration.

I agree with you about information needed for medical reasons, but it isn't like this case is the first time.

And in a world where so many dead-beat dads are all too happy to wriggle out of the duties of fatherhood, it's good to see a bloke fight for his right to be a Dad.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

And what happens if this "third person" who donated the sperm decides to sue for custody? If the court were to deny the donor custody on the basis of this recent decision, this creates an incredible legal mess.

It is fine and good to allow the transgender party to legally adopt, but to name this person as a "natural" parent defies logic, and makes no sense. But then again, it seems a rule nowadays that laws be illogical, and make no sense. Otherwise we wouldn't have to pay lawyers and judges to interpret them for us.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

And what happens if this "third person" who donated the sperm decides to sue for custody?

That was my first thought as well. Are we now going to deny the rights of a biological parent?

It is fine and good to allow the transgender party to legally adopt, but to name this person as a "natural" parent defies logic, and makes no sense.


-1 ( +0 / -1 )

And what happens if this "third person" who donated the sperm decides to sue for custody?

I imagine there's a clause in the ivf agreement both parties sign that makes that impossible. http://www.knowndonor.com/contract.php#contract-three-party

It is fine and good to allow the transgender party to legally adopt, but to name this person as a "natural" parent defies logic, and makes no sense

But it is OK to name an impotent man as the natural parent? Because that's what has happened ever since ivf became available. Or the unsuspecting husband of a woman with a roving eye? Because that's been happening ever since the practice of birth registration began. Is it just the transgender thing that bothers you, or would you like all Dads given a DNA test before they're allowed to register a child's birth?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It would be naive to say this has never happened before, of course.

In Japan, where a man and woman are legally married, and a woman becomes pregnant, the man is automatically assumed to be the father, even if the wife says he is not. Like the woman in Wakayama who had to go through courts to prove her exhusband was not the father of her child (she was divorced less than 6 months before the child was born.)

That is insane, and the law needs to be changed with a focus on the child's right to know who is biological parents are. It is, in my opinion, a basic right. I take exception with ALL men who are not the biological father being named as such on the birth certificate. If there is doubt, a DNA test should be performed.

The thing about married couples, or even impotent couples, is that there is always a possibility that the dad/husband is the father. He has sperm. My problem with this case is that this is an all out lie. This transsexual will be, in every respect, a father to this child. Probably a very good father. There is no disputing that.

My problem is that the courts are saying this man is the biological father, which is frankly impossible. It is not a mistake - It is not an error of timing or a woman sleeping with 2 men at once, and a bad work out of dates. It is an outright lie.

I know it makes the parents life a whole lot easier, but why lie about it? Why mislead the child? Why could they not have left the fathers name blank, if they used a donor and don't know who he is? Could the non-biological father not have adopted the child legally? I understand the transexual and his wife want to keep the sperm donor out, but they do not, in my opinion have the right to do that. The child has every right when he hits 20 to find his biological dad.

It is never ideal that mistakes happen on birth certificates, but of course they do. But for the courts to support this is appauling. They should be going the other way, in my opinion - punishing people for intentionally putting the wrong name down, for whatever reason. The welfare of the child has to come first, in my opinion, and EVERY child should have the right to find out exactly who his biological parents are.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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