In Japan, each citizen is automatically enrolled in the family registry system. The registry lists all family members and is used by the government for various administrative purposes. (Korea and Taiwan are the only other countries that use this scheme, because Japan imposed it on them during its occupation.) Seeing as it forms the basis of all subsequent legal documents, the registry presents a real problem for some people.
The transgendered are among those with difficulties. That's because all legal documents in Japan, except for drivers' licenses, list the person's sex. Transgendered people, who lead an existence opposite that of their birth sex, are treated as if their very lives were proof of their criminality.
This burden, however, seemed to ease this summer when a law allowing citizens to change their gender went into effect. The transgendered can — for the first time — legally rent a house, work as a regular company employee, go to the doctor without hassle, and get married. (Transgenderism and homosexuality are separate issues; homosexuals can't get married in Japan yet.)
I had female-to-male sex reassignment surgery (SRS) at Stanford University in California in 1989, and thanks to the new law, I legally became a male last September. Three times during the past 10 years, I had appealed to the courts to change my gender on all my legal papers, and the third appeal was finally accepted. Do you know how happy I am? I wanted so badly to show the papers listing me as a legal male to my seriously ill mother before she died, and I was able to do it
Aging gays face problems of isolation, loneliness, fear
By ELISE KLEEMAN
SANTA CRUZ — Mardi Brown has lived alone since her partner died five years ago. At 65, she is active, involved in the community and self-sufficient. But she still worries who will be there for her if she needs help as she ages.
"When you don’t have a family, and you don’t have a partner, how do you take care of yourself when you get older?" she wonders.
A survey conducted by the Diversity Center, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community center in Santa Cruz, shows Brown is not alone in her concerns. It highlights the emotional, social and support needs of LGBT seniors, and is being used to spread awareness of the senior LGBT community.
When most of your school is gay
By Paul Henley
Are pupils at the world's first "gay" state school victims of segregation or symbols of progressive thinking?
The majority of pupils at Harvey Milk High School in New York are gay and were bullied at their previous school for their sexuality.
Harvey Milk refuses to be classified as a "gay school" even though that is the general perception of it from opponents and supporters alike. But it says its unique brand of segregated education fully deserves its public funding.
It says it provides for a small population of victimised and bullied pupils who are made to feel so freakish in mainstream high schools that they are falling behind in lessons, too scared to go to school and missing out on a proper education.
Group rallies gay, straight students
By Eddie Beeby
An effort to bring students of all sexualities together has generated concern among members of a well-established student group.
The Gay Straight Student Alliance, a new student organization that received recognition by the Student Association Oct. 26, is causing some mild controversy in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center.
The goal of GSSA is to reach out to the university community to raise awareness of issues between LGBT and heterosexual students, said Stephen de Jony, president of GSSA and a senior history major.
Backers say Oregon's gay marriages remain valid
By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI
Associated Press writer
PORTLAND — Proponents of gay marriage are conceding that a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage shuts the door to state-sanctioned nuptials between gay and lesbian couples — at least for now.
But they are claiming that the ban does not invalidate the marriages of the 2,961 gay and lesbian couples who tied the knot in Oregon earlier this year, when Multnomah County briefly permitted gay marriage, before a judge stopped the practice.
Nor does it shut the door to civil unions, according to legal briefs filed with the Oregon Supreme Court by the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday.
That contention is a scaled-back argument for gay rights advocates in Oregon, who had previously argued that marriage was the only avenue that could ensure full protection for gay and lesbian couples.
Human Rights Personnel Under Attack
by Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS - The world's human rights defenders – including lawyers, journalists, judges, women's activists, and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – are increasingly coming under attack by repressive governments, according to a senior UN official.
"The violation of the physical integrity of defenders takes the form of killings, attempted killings, torture, beatings, death threats, and disappearances," says Hina Jilani, the Geneva-based UN special representative on human rights defenders.
In a 23-page report to the current session of the UN General Assembly , she says human rights organizations are also increasingly facing "invasive policing."
Jilani cites 22 cases of raids by officers of law enforcement agencies, who seized documents, files, and databases relating to rights abuses, and also confiscated computers and cameras – all from human rights organizations
"Such police operations are often conducted without [search] warrants and, in some countries, occur repeatedly," she said.
Jilani reported that several human rights defenders who attended the June 2004 session of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva complained that security officials had visited their homes or offices during their absence to question colleagues and family members about the Geneva trip.
Forget Canada, let's have California secede
By Jeremy Beecher
Media Credit: Heathter Macias | Daily TrojanTwo months ago I wrote about relocating to Canada should Bush retake the presidency.
"One of these days," I rhapsodized, "I'll find out where the downtown Canadian Consulate is. I hear Montreal is beautiful in the fall."
But fall has passed, and Montreal is far too cold in wintertime for a Californian's warm blood.
Call it an election-season flip-flop of my own.
Instead, California should just secede. It's a tough pill to swallow at first. But give it a chance.