Asking for Gender Identity is a Violation of Human Rights

On April 18th of this year, the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare announced a resume “format example” that no longer requires gender indication, and the specification of gender is optional. 

Gender indication leads to gender discrimination by potential employers, and it has been a subject of discussion that has finally reached to the point where it will be optional. 

Globally, it is generally recognized that the act itself of inquiring, to prevent discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, age, and appearance, is a violation of human rights and an illegal act.

The thought that there is no problem in leaving the gender indication if specification is optional is very Japanese.  This can be seen in “The Global Gender Gap Report 2021” released this March which shows the gender gap index that measures differences in men and women, ranking Japan 120th, the lowest level among developed countries.  However, it goes without saying that the gender column itself should have been eliminated, for the act of inquiring is a violation of human rights.  It is clear that discrimination will not end if the gender column remains, even if indication is optional. 

In July 2020, the “JIS format example” with a conventional gender column “male/female,” which needed to have either one circled, was deleted.  The understanding that the male/female gender inquiry itself is the problem has been spreading gradually, but in order to generalize the understanding that the inquiry itself is the problem, the gender column should had been deleted from the “format example.”  Let’s just hope that the remaining “optional gender column” will not continue to be used to justify the violation of human rights.

In this way, it may be a general recognition in Japan that “if there is not a recognition of discrimination, then it’s not discrimination.”  However, such thoughts show our low awareness of human rights.  

Gender columns have been present on various Anglican application forms for some time.  The overwhelming majority of such inquiries based on gender dichotomy as “male/female” has been pointed out that such is not suitable for a comprehensive formation of church.  However, even though gender mentioning has been deleted from statistical reports and the necessity to inquire on gender has lessened, church worship attendance register still separates male and female, even on visitor attendance forms.  The fact that there are gender columns that ask to check either male or female indicate that our church is not an “open church.”   

Inquiring about gender on an event application form may be for room assignments for lodging or some type of insurance.  In Japan, insurance contracts such as life insurance and chronic illness insurance have different insurance premiums and coverage depending on gender, but there is no need for gender inquiry for recreation insurance. 

As a first step aiming toward an open, comprehensive church where everyone can feel at ease, why not consider dropping gender inquiries?

Revd Ambrosia Kaori Goto
Nagoya St. Mark’s Church
Aichi St. Luke’s Church