Just before the turn of the twenty-first century changes to Japanese laws concerning the modification of reproductive capacity resulted in the removal of some legal barriers to the surgical modification of sexed bodies. These operations are variously known as ‘‘sex change’’ [seitenkan shujutsu], ‘‘sex adjustment’’ [seibetsu tekigo shujutsu], or ‘‘sex reassignment’’ operations [seibetsu saihantei shujutsu]. Medical facilities that perform such surgery usually do so only after the client has spent a substantial period of time living as a member of the gender they wish to acquire. There is now a significant number of individuals in Japan who have undergone such surgery or are planning to do so. These include both male to female (MtF) and female to male (FtM) transformations. In addition, there are those who live transgendered lives without undergoing radical surgery, some who undergo hormone treatment, and some who simply modify their dress and deportment and modulate their speech patterns.
By Vera Mackie, 2008