A transgender man in central Japan obtained a copy of a new family register on Thursday that now lists him as male, after a landmark ruling this year approved for his gender to be changed without sterilization surgery.

With his gender identity now matching the one on his family register, Gen Suzuki, 49, told reporters at the Hamamatsu municipal office in Shizuoka Prefecture that he can now "live at ease."

Visiting with his partner Ryoko Kunii, 51, Suzuki said it took a "long" time for him to be approved for a gender change, but the process was meaningful.

Gen Suzuki (L) speaks to reporters at Hamamatsu municipal office in Shizuoka Prefecture on Dec. 7, 2023. (Kyodo)

In October, the Hamamatsu branch of the Shizuoka Family Court ruled in his favor, saying that a law requiring sterilization surgery to switch genders on a family register was unconstitutional.

Suzuki had sought approval to have his gender changed without undergoing surgery that would have taken away his reproductive capacity.

The court said on Oct. 11 that such a legal requirement violates Article 13 of the Constitution, which stipulates all people must be respected as individuals.

The ruling also said restricting the freedom of people with gender identity disorder to choose not to undergo physically invasive procedures against their will is "not rational." It was the first such judgment in Japan to challenge the rule, according to Suzuki's lawyers.

Suzuki has undergone hormone therapy and has surgically removed his breast tissue, but filed the lawsuit believing that the sex reassignment operation would have had a serious impact on his physical and mental health.

He said he felt uncomfortable being treated as female from a young age and was diagnosed with gender identity disorder at age 40.

Family courts must give permission to make changes to a family register, which records personal information about citizens such as their gender and family relationships.

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