The topic of reproductive organs in relation to gender has long been a thorny one. So to speak, your sex is defined by what’s between your legs and your gender is defined by what’s between your ears and the two are not mutually exclusive.
However, for many people this does not make sense. In part the belief that those with vaginas are female or that those with penises are male (and you cannot be those genders without the ‘appropriate’ parts) are fuelled by centuries of misunderstanding, along with modern uses of phrases like ‘lady parts’ or ‘man parts’ along with ‘comedy’ videos like this.
But gender and sex are more than just an ideological issues as they provide challenges for those looking to have their gender recognised. Taiwan is one of several recent countries to acknowledge these problems and have now overturned a 2008 administrative order in which trans citizens had to undergo an evaluation by two psychiatrists and have sex reassignment surgery to remove organs deemed by the order as “gender specific”.
The decision comes after pressure from Taiwanese advocates to allow all citizens to self-identity when it comes to their gender. In December 2013, the Ministry of Health and Welfare agreed with their argument and recommended to the Ministry of the Interior that trans* citizens shouldn’t have to jump through surgical hoops just to have their gender identity recognised.
This is a huge stepping stone not just because sex reassignment surgery can be both dangerous and expensive but because having your gender legally recognised is also massively important in terms of administration. For example, trans people can have difficulty in finding housing or employment and often face discrimination, violence and harassment too.
From now on, gender reassignments will be processed by a team of people that includes gender specialists, psychiatrists and and transgender representatives. The ideal goal for many people would just be ‘being granted gender recognition without requiring a committee to approve it first’ but this is a good step in the right direction regardless.