The Court of Final Appeal on Monday ruled that the authorities breached the rights of two transgender men by refusing to record their new gender on their identity cards because they had not undergone full sex reassignment surgery.
Henry Edward Tse and a man referred to as Q in the proceedings, made an appeal to Hong Kong's top court after earlier losing their case at the Court of First Instance and Court of Appeal.
The issue was first brought to court in 2019 after the commissioner of registration refused to review the gender status on the pair's identity cards as they had only undergone hormone treatment and had their breasts removed.
Under the commissioner's policy, a transgender person must undergo full sex reassignment surgery before being granted an amendment to the gender markers on their ID card. Such surgical procedures, including on the genitals, are often deemed unnecessary and even risky by the transgender community.
In a written judgement, the court ruled that the authorities' policy imposes "an unacceptably harsh burden" on the two men, and that undergoing highly invasive and medically unnecessary surgery violates their constitutional rights under Article 14 of the Bill of Rights.
The five-judge panel unanimously quashed the commissioner’s decision, saying it did not strike a balance between societal benefits and the constitutional rights of the individuals.