Taiwain's Ministry of the Interior announced on Friday that trans citizens will no longer be required to undergo surgery and extensive mental evaluation before having their gender legally recognized, reports the Taipei Times.
The decision reverses a 2008 administrative order considered discriminatory by many trans advocates, which banned alteration of an individual's legal gender marker prior to evaluation by two psychiatrists and removal of specific organs designated as "gender-specific."
Taiwan now joins a growing number of nations worldwide that recognize forcing trans citizens to choose between gender recognition and potential sterilization is a human rights violation. Trans citizens without legal identification that reflects their affirmed gender face difficulty in procuring employment, finding housing, and can face social harassment or violence, which may place undue pressure on them to receive surgery sooner, or receive more or different procedures than what's needed for their own gender affirmation processes.
Taiwanese advocates have long argued that all citizens should be able to self-identify their own genders, according to the Times. In December 2013, the Ministry of Health and Welfare agreed, recommending to the Ministry of the Interior that trans citizens face no medical requirements at all in order to have their genders legally recognized.
Though initially reported as an official policy — and, indeed, a groundbreaking one worldwide, as most countries still at least require a doctor's corroboration to acknowledge that a person is transgender — the recommendation was never adopted by the Ministry of the Interior, notes Gay Star News.
Rather, the government's Ministry of the Interior has indicated that it will work with the Ministry of Health and Welfare to come up with alternative criteria for gender reassignment applications.
The change is still a welcome one to countless trans citizens, many of whom told the Times that surgeries are prohibitively dangerous or costly, or are simply not a part of their personal gender identities.