Japan’s Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Trans Government Employee Over Restroom Restrictions

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court Tuesday ruled in favor of a trans government employee who was restricted from using certain restrooms at the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry building.

The ministry told the trans employee, who is male according to the official family register but lives as a woman, to use a restroom more than two floors away to avoid problems with female colleagues.

The employee filed a lawsuit against the government, arguing the restriction was unfair.

According to the Supreme Court ruling, the government had no justification to restrict the employee from using the restrooms. This is the first such Supreme Court ruling in a case concerning workplace practices and sexual minorities.

The employee, who has not undergone gender reassignment surgery, was diagnosed with gender identity disorder around 1999.

With the consent of the ministry, the employee has been wearing female attire at work since 2010.

The employee asked the National Personnel Authority to get the ministry to lift the restroom restriction, but to no avail. A lawsuit followed in 2015.

In 2019, the Tokyo District Court ruled that the restriction was illegal, but the High Court overturned the ruling in 2021. The employee appealed to the Supreme Court following the High Court ruling.