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Japan: Transgender Man to Receive Compensation As a Male. Surprised?

The Okayama District Court has ruled [ja] that calculations of estimated lost earnings for a transgender man suffering severe aftereffects from a traffic accident be based on average wages for an adult male. The plaintiff is registered as a woman in the koseki, the national family registry, and the defendant claimed that calculations should be based on average wages for an adult female. The judge based his ruling on the fact that the plaintiff has changed his name to a common boy's name and regularly took testosterone shots.

Aoisora002 wonders about perceptions of this ruling:

性同一性障害で戸籍にとらわれることなく、日常生活に視点をおいて判決された事は非常に画期的な事なのだそうです。でも、ちょっと考えてみると当たり前のことのような気もするのですが。だって社会生活は男性として送っていたわけで、当然働いて得ていた賃金も男性の賃金だったのですから、もらえるはずの賃金も男性の賃金になるはずですよね。
一見当たり前に思える判決が、画期的という評価を受ける事にも少し疑問を感じずにはいられません。

Apparently, this is a landmark ruling because it focuses on daily life instead of on what's written in the koseki. If you think about it though, it seems kind of obvious. He lives as a man and his wages are that of a man's. Of course he should be compensated for what he would have earned as a man. The decision seems obvious at first glance, but I can't help but question the fact that it's being regarded as a landmark ruling.

Dorami views the news in the context of prejudice:

日本では、性の問題はタブー視され、メディアでの露出や教育でもとりあげられにくい。(性同一性障害と同性愛は別物だけど)例えば同性愛は受け容れられにくい(=悪)とするも、はっきりと悪といいきることもしない。そういう土壌が差別を生んできたのだろう。そう考えると、2,3年前からテレビでは元気なオカマを見るようになったが、それはいい流れなんだろうなぁ。アメリカでは一部で根強い差別はあるものの、黒人が大統領になるまでに人種差別は少なくなっている。同性愛者が大統領になってもおかしくないのかも。日本もそれを追いかけていくのかな。差別以前に政治の体質というものが高い垣根になってくるんだろうけど。

Sex/gender related issues are taboo in Japan, and don't receive much media exposure or attention in education. (Yes, gender identity and sexual identity are different things.) For example, homosexuality is deemed not very acceptable (=bad) but people don't state that it's bad outright. This kind of environment breeds prejudice. It's probably a good thing for Japan that we've begun to see cheerful gay men on television shows in the past two or three years. While racial prejudice remains strong in some parts of the United States, it's decreased to the extent that a black man has managed to become president. It's wouldn't be surprising if a homosexual person was next. I wonder if Japan will follow in this direction. The political make-up of this country might be a strong barrier, though.

Hino responds in a comment on the post:

でもきっと逆はないんだろうね
男なのに女として生活してる場合の方はさ
女だからそんなに金はいらないなんてことにはならなそう
そこまでいったら完全な平等なんだろうけどね

The opposite won't happen, though – a transgender female asking for less because she lives as a woman. Now that would be complete equality.

Kyoko also refers to television trends in her blog:

性同一性障害という言葉は、随分と一般的になってきました。テレビでは、オネエブームで多くの男性が女装して登場します。本物かどうか?は判りませんが・・・

The word 性同一性障害 (gender identity disorder) has become quite common. With the “onee boom” (‘Onee’ means older sister, and refers to effeminate gay men.), many men in drag appear on television shows. I don't know whether they're the real thing, though…

And goes on to say:

被害者は、重い後遺症が残ったということでお気の毒ですが、社会的に男性と認められたことでご自分を誇りに思われていると察します。

It's a shame that he's suffering from aftereffects, but I guess that he's proud of himself and how society has accepted him as a man.

In a post titled “The Value of Life”, Hiro questions the system itself:

ようするに、これが女性と算定されれば、はるかに安い賠償しか得られなかったということだ。そもそも、女性の方が賃金が低いこと自体が問題なのだが、裁判というのは正義よりも現実の世の中に追随するほうが大切なものなんだと再確認する。たとえば、これが医者や弁護士だったら賠償額は高くて、ニートやフリーターだったら安いのだろう。このように格差を当然のように前提にして命の値段まで決めてしまう社会って、恐ろしいと思うのは私だけでだろうか。

In short, if the calculation had been based on average wages for women, he would have received a far smaller amount. While the underlying problem is that women earn less than men, this case reaffirms the fact that it's more important for rulings to follow reality rather than justice. For example, if this man had been a doctor or lawyer, he would have received more. If he'd been a NEET or a freeter, he would have received less. A society that blithely decides the value of life based on this type of disparity is frightening.

2 comments

  • Interesting! I’m surprised that it is so openly accepted for there to be wage differences between men and women.

    • Sad, isn’t it? I used to believe that it was men in general and old-fashioned women who thought that way. Around high school, I discovered that a lot of young, highly-educated women accept and even seem to think it’s good (‘natural’) for there to be differences in wages and opportunities and such. I had some vague notion that the old people would eventually die out and the situation would evolve. Not true!

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