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Transgender Hyogo man lectures about Supreme Court recognition as 'father' of children

Ryo Maeda, 36, lectures about his life, from the time he felt uncomfortable with his gender growing up as a girl to the Supreme Court decision that recognized him as the "father" of his children, in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, on Aug. 10, 2018. (Mainichi)

TAKARAZUKA, Hyogo -- Transgender man Ryo Maeda spoke at a public hall here on Aug. 10 about how he came to be a father.

The 36-year-old resident of Shiso, Hyogo Prefecture, told his life story, beginning with feeling uncomfortable with his gender from a young age all the way to a Japanese Supreme Court decision that recognized him as the father of his child in the Japanese family registry.

"I would like people to know about the existence of people like me, and why we feel so constricted," he said.

From the time he entered kindergarten, Maeda did not feel quite right with his gender, and hated his red school bag for girls and the girls' uniform he had to wear to school. Unable to play his favorite sport of baseball in a school club because the sport is reserved for boys, he ended up in a softball club instead. During his high school years, he would plead with his teacher that he did not want to wear his high school girl uniform, but no one would listen to him. Maeda contemplated suicide, but was held back by the thought that he did not want to be memorialized as a girl.

Via artificial insemination by a third-party donor, Maeda and his wife were able to have a son, and after Maeda changed his legal gender to male, the Supreme Court sided with the family and allowed Maeda to be listed as the "father" of the child.

Still, there are people who hear the story around him and say that it is a shame that his son will grow up in such a household.

"It was a shock because I'd thought I would be congratulated for having a child," Maeda recalled. "The only one who should decide if he is 'pitiful' or not is my son himself. I wanted to solve these issues so that I did not leave behind any problems for my children." That is why Maeda, who now has two sons, decided to take his case to the Supreme Court.

Takarazuka resident Ikuyo Kubota, 64, commented after hearing Maeda's story, "I felt once more that words that we say without thinking can really hurt people."

(Japanese original by Katsuyoshi Ishikawa, Hanshin Bureau)

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