Transsexuals May Change Legal Status if Bill Passes
[KOREA] - A lawmaker from the Grand National Party (GNP) said yesterday, he will soon submit to parliament an amendment bill aimed at allowing transsexuals to change their legal gender identity.
Rep. Kim Hong-shin said the proposal is designed to enable transsexuals, who have undergone surgery to change their sex, to change their gender identity listed on family registers. The family register is an official document containing personal information on each family member throughout the country.
"In most cases, transsexuals rarely gain public recognition with regards to their changed gender identity and often face many new difficulties in their daily lives," Kim said.
Kim pointed out that the Constitution stipulates the principle to protect social minorities, and guarantees the individual rights to seek happiness. He added that some European countries like Germany and Sweden allow transsexuals to re-register under their new gender status.
Kim, a second-term lawmaker, said he would deliver the bill after a planned public hearing session on the issue set for June 10. Kim's party, the GNP, holds 132 seats, only one seat shy of an outright majority in the 264-member legislature.
The legislation requires those who want to undergo a sex change operation to have prior consultation with medical experts and psychiatrists, Kim said.
He further stipulates that, "only an unmarried person over 20 should be allowed to get such surgery."
Korean law, meanwhile, officially bans any sex change operation, for the reason that surgery cannot change sex chromosomes. Furthermore, the nation's Confucian culture has given transsexual issues a difficult time in coming out.
Last year, the controversy erupted over transgender issues, after Ha Ri-su, a male-to-female transsexual, became a popular actress for the first time in Korea.
Surveys at the time showed a majority of respondents said Ha should get a female registration card number.
Even some political big wigs like Kim Joong-kwon, then chairman of the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP), supported the idea, and called for a public debate on the issue.
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