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Taiwan update December 2022
Women’s rights in Taiwan:
“A married daughter is like water thrown out,” is an old Chinese proverb and a notion held by many Taiwanese, especially the older generation. The saying, meaning women are outsiders to their family of origin once they are married, fully demonstrates the low status of females in the society. Thankfully, the status of women in Taiwan has improved greatly over the past few decades, with further room for improvement.
- Traditionally, education was considered more important for males, and it was acceptable for a man to have more than one wife, while women were expected to strictly follow the Confucian “three obediences and four virtues,” or obedience to the father before marriage, husband afterward and son in widowhood, and propriety in behavior, speech, demeanor and employment.
- However, women’s status in Taiwan has advanced over the past years thanks to the efforts of feminist advocates. Notable achievements include the passage of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act in 1998, the first such law in Asia, and the Gender Equality in Employment Act in 2002.
- Feminist consciousness was introduced to Taiwan during the 1970s by students returning from the U.S. “They ran magazines advocating for women’s rights during the martial law period, set up women’s organizations after the law was lifted [in 1987], and brought issues such as sexual harassment and gender equality in employment into the spotlight,”
- Sexual harassment and discrimination in employment were a big problem in the 1980s. Nonetheless, Taiwanese society did not really confront the harassment and violence experienced by women until 1994, when Deng Ru-wen, a long-term victim of domestic violence, killed her husband.
- Through the intercession of women’s organizations, Deng was sentenced to only three years in jail and obtained custody of her children after serving her time. Moreover, the high profile case spurred passage of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act. Notable legislative achievements in this regard include the Sexual Harassment Prevention Act of 2005; Gender Equity Education Act of 2004; Act of Gender Equality in Employment of 2002; Domestic Violence Prevention Act of 1998; and Sexual Assault Prevention Act of 1997.
Nowadays - Taiwan has been hailed as setting progressive landmarks in Asia for sexual freedoms, particularly after the 2017 decision by the Council of Grand Justices that paved the way for the legalization of gay marriage two years later. That being said, many restrictive laws have remained on the books where sexual freedoms are concerned. It was only last year (2021) that courts struck down laws that criminalized adultery, following a ruling by the Constitutional Court. Taiwan’s adultery laws were among the last laws of its kind in Asia, with a veritable cottage industry of private detectives that routinely engaged in stalking, threats, and blackmail having emerged to provide evidence for adultery cases. Nevertheless, it still remains possible for civil suits to be filed for adultery. Taiwan currently allows married women to get abortions under only certain conditions, including the approval of their spouse.
Gender identity ideology in Taiwan:
1988 : Two doctors defined the surgical requirements to change one’s legal sex in Taiwan as the removal of reproductive organs and the completion of so-called “sex reassignment surgery” (SRS), including vaginoplasty and phalloplasty.
Other criteria for legally changing sex in Taiwan included:
- Living as opposite sex for at least two years and adapting well
- Having the support of parents and family
- Being aged between 20 and 40 years old
- Patient intelligence above mid-range, an IQ score of between 85 and 115
- Ruling-out patients seeking to perform surgery due to mental disorders, paraphilic disorders, or excessive mental stress
For 20 years, this remained the only way to legally change your sex in Taiwan
November 2008 : As SRS is often expensive and quite risky, human rights organizations and various activists worked with the Department of Health (now called the Ministry of Health and Welfare), to change the 1988 criteria to the following:
“Application of trans-identified individuals requires two certificates of diagnosis from two different licensed Taiwanese psychiatrists, and a certificate of diagnosis from a licensed Taiwanese medical institution stating the removal of breasts, uterus, and ovaries in women, and penis and testes in men.”
The difference being that now, no vaginoplasty or phalloplasty was required after the surgery.
October 2013: The Office of the President Human Rights Committee held a meeting and decided the Executive Yuan should coordinate with the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Health to come up with a better policy for legal sex changes.
December 2013 : The Ministry of Health held a conference on sex change registration requirements. The conference agreed on the following conclusion:
“The legal change of gender registration should not require ANY medical requirements or prerequisites.”
The conclusion also stated that details should be discussed further with affected agencies and ministries. No women’s organizations were mentioned or consulted.
January 2017 : The Taiwanese Society of Psychiatry published the following statement on their website:
“It is not recommended to allow the change of legal gender solely based on Psychiatrists’ Certificates of diagnosis. We recommend that the government should form a special agency dedicated to this specific purpose instead, to ensure and protect the rights of the affected individual.”
September 2021 : Taiwan court rules to allow a male identifying himself as “Xiao E (小E)” to change his legal sex to “female” without surgery.
The Chinese language news outlets that covered this case (UDN News, ET Daily, Apply Daily, LTN Liberty Times) all did so with no comment on how these changes would impact women in Taiwan. Across the board, they printed copy and paste statements from groups representing trans activist interests, and offered no counter opinion or discussion of potential harm to women and girls. The two English language news outlets to discuss the case — Focus Taiwan and Taipei Times — provided the barest of details and also failed to discuss negative impacts on women.
Articles and statements:
No Self ID Taiwan - https://noselfidtw.cc/en/ is the first website in East Asia to be written entirely in English (and the only such website in Taiwan) and dedicated to pushing back against gender ideology, protecting women’s sex-based rights, and tracking changes in the law regarding self-ID.