Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Sex-change man says boy his own

"The Justice Ministry has refused to let a man who was born female but legally became male to register as his son a baby his wife gave birth to through artificial insemination with donated semen.

"The man's 28-year-old wife was impregnated with sperm donated by his brother.

"The husband in Shiso, Hyogo Prefecture, was instructed (by the city office) to register the baby, who was born in November, as an out-of-wedlock birth for family registration purposes.

"The move has been criticized because other men (who were born male) can register children born through artificial insemination with donated semen as their own offspring.

"The 27-year-old man said he intends to file a petition of objection with the Kobe Family Court if the Shiso city office moves to register the baby as an illegitimate child.

""(The government) recognized my marriage as a man, but does not recognize my paternity," the self-employed husband said. "It doesn't make sense."

"The Justice Ministry said it is aware of five similar cases. Legal battles over such children's status are likely.

"As of last March, 1,468 men and women had legally changed their sex.

"The individual changed his sex to male in his family registration in March 2008 in accordance with a special measures law for those with gender identity disorder that took effect in 2004. He was married the following month.

"When the couple reported the birth to the Shiso city office, municipal officials, citing the husband's sex change, put the case on hold.

"Acting on the Justice Ministry's direction, city officials told the couple in late December to rewrite the birth notification and list the baby as hichakushutsushi (child born out of wedlock) by Tuesday.

"In response to an inquiry from The Asahi Shimbun, the ministry replied in writing: "The special measures law is not intended to go so far as to change the biological sex. Nor does it envision the formation of biological parent-child relationships."

"In cases like the one in Shiso, the family registration shows that the husband was previously a woman, so "it's obvious (when the couple registers a baby) that there is no genetic father-child relationship," the ministry said.

"Artificial insemination with donor semen has been widely used in Japan by couples whose husbands are infertile.

"More than 10,000 children are believed to have been born through this method. Even though there is no genetic father-child relationship, these children have been generally registered as chakushutsushi (child born in wedlock).

"The reason is that family registration officials have no way to determine if the baby was born through artificial insemination with donor semen, a Shiso official said.

"Toshiyuki Oshima, a professor of civil law at Kyushu International University who heads the Japanese Society of Gender Identity Disorder, said that the ministry's view discriminates against people with the disorder.

""(The husband in Shiso) is no different from other husbands with children born through artificial insemination, in that there is no genetic relationship," Oshima said.

"Under civil law, a baby conceived while a woman is married is presumed to be her husband's child.

"In 2007, the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology's Ethics Committee issued a statement that artificial insemination with donated semen for wives of husbands who legally changed their sex does not violate its guidelines.

"Yasunori Yoshimura, a professor at Keio University's School of Medicine who heads the society, said, "A couple must be legally married to be eligible for artificial insemination with donor semen. There is no reason to deny a couple like the one in this case the procedure.""

By Satoko Uehara (Asahi Shimbun, 1/11/2010), Link to article (last visited 1/13/2010)

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