Hong Kong Transgender Community Faces Strict New ID Policy Changes

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Hong Kong Transgender Strict New ID Policy Changes

Activists in Hong Kong are incensed over new policies that are supposed to make it easier for trans folks to change the gender marker on their IDs but, in actuality, remain quite stringent.

Landmark Victory with Lingering Issues

The policy changes came about after what at the time seemed like a landmark victory in 2023, in which Hong Kong’s highest court ruled that gender-affirming surgery should not be required before someone can legally change their gender on identity cards.

The court declared that policy unconstitutional and said it created an “unacceptably harsh burden.” The decision also said the current rules create “confusion or embarrassment” for those who present as a gender that conflicts with what is on their identity card.

The Reality of Policy Changes

But a year later, the changes aren’t quite as drastic as initially expected.

Trans men must still have undergone top surgery, and trans women are required to receive bottom surgery before changing their IDs. Trans folks must also legally declare themselves to have gender dysphoria, provide proof they have been undergoing hormone treatments for at least two years, and have also lived as their gender identity for the past two years, Time reported. They will also be subject to random blood tests to confirm they are taking hormones.

Related : Hong Kong’s Revised ID Card Gender Rules Spark Controversy Among LGBTQ Activists

Government Clarification and Public Reaction

A spokesperson for the government told Time that all of this only applies to the gender marker on folks’s Hong Kong Identity Card. It does not affect the legal status of someone’s gender. “The sex entry on a Hong Kong identity card does not represent the holder’s sex as a matter of law,” the official said. “It does not affect any other policies of the Government or the handling of any other gender-related matters under the law in Hong Kong or relevant legal procedures.”

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Concerns Over New Policies

“I worry that the policy will continue to affect transgenders’ decisions and even induce them to receive medical services that will bring risks and complications but are deemed unnecessary to them personally,” trans activist Zephyrus Tsang told the South China Morning Post, adding that a disproportionate burden has been placed on trans women, since being required to remove their genitals comes with more risk than breast removal.

Henry Edward Tse, a trans man and one of the plaintiffs in the original case, was also concerned with the new requirements, adding, “The new policy does not mean that all the discrimination and harm caused by the long delay will be wiped out” (Tse is currently in the midst of another lawsuit over how long it is taking the government to update his identity card).

Disappointment and Criticism from the Trans Community

A joint statement from the Hong Kong Trans Law Database and trans youth organization Quarks also expressed the groups were “extremely disappointed” by the update and that they still “violate transgender people’s right to privacy and bodily integrity,” according to a translation by Pink News. They also claim the government did not at all consult with the trans community before updating the requirements and contend that there are no “clear medical standards” for what they decided.

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