Fear of transgender Hong Kong man forces legal challenge

Court writ filed over ‘coercive’ policy as worry over health risks rules out required reassignment surgery

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 May, 2017, 11:40pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 May, 2017, 4:53pm

A transgender man has lodged a judicial review against a “coercive” policy by the commissioner of registration for not recognising his adopted gender before a full body change, even though his ­status was registered in Britain.

According to the court writ, Henry Edward Tse, a female-to-male transsexual, decided not to undergo sex reassignment ­surgery as he feared this would damage his health.

As a result, the commissioner refused his application, saying there was no reason to depart from the Registration of Persons Regulations, which required the removal of Tse’s uterus and ovaries, and construction of a penis.

Hong Kong’s transgender community still faces an uphill battle against discrimination

The writ filed on Monday said the policy amounted to degrading treatment and interference with his privacy, breaching the Hong Kong Bill of Rights. It also accused the commissioner of ­indirect sex discrimination.

Tse, born in 1991, is a Hong Kong permanent resident and identity card holder, who also holds a British passport, issued in November 2012, which describes him as male.

He wrote to the commissioner on June 8 last year asking for the gender on his identity card to be amended even though he had ­decided against surgery on health grounds.

“[Tse] further considers that the current policy requirement for sex reassignment surgery is coercive, requiring him to forgo his basic human right to bodily integrity in order to enjoy his constitutional rights,” the letter said.

In another letter, Dr Malik ­Saoudi, his consultant psychiatrist in gender medicine, told the commissioner that the medical procedure was not compulsory in terms of gender dysphoria, and Tse showed concern over risks from bleeding to infection.

But the commissioner rejected Tse’s application in January this year, saying that it did not consider there were sufficient grounds for it to depart from the “prevailing policy”.