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With court ruling, surgery to alter genitals is no longer necessary to change one’s legal gender status
Landmark legal ruling for South Korean transgenders

in KOREA, REPUBLIC OF, 08/04/2013

Seoul Western District Court ruled in favor of accepting requests from five female-to-male transgender individuals to have their family register listing altered to be classified as male. None of the five has undergone operations to surgically alter their sex organs.

The five filed their request in December, arguing that the demand for surgery to conform to the changed gender status constituted the main barrier to approvals and violated the spirit of the legal gender modification system, which is to guarantee the Constitutional rights of transgender people.

One of the five, identified by the initial "K," was born with a female body, but started identifying as male when he was a teenager. In the 1990s, he underwent surgery to remove his breasts and uterus and began taking male hormones, leaving him with a thick beard, deep voice, and stocky build. He has lived with his wife for the past two decades, but he has not gone through the final step of the sex change, namely surgery on his genitals. Not only is the procedure dangerous, with a high risk that it will require multiple operations, but it also costs the equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars.

K looks like a regular male, but his resident registration number begins with a "2," which indicates legal female status (male registration numbers start with 1). He cannot go to work at companies that demand a career history with a resident number, so he does deliveries and other temporary jobs. When he has gone to hospitals and government offices in the past, the employees there have looked at his ID and said, "This can't be you." Going to vote is out of the question. He and his wife have not filed a marriage notice.

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