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Japan primary school accepts boy as girl

Written by: Staff

TOKYO, May 18 (Reuters) A Japanese primary school is allowing a 7-year-old boy with a gender identity disorder to take part in school life as a girl, an unprecedented move in this conservative nation, local media today said.

The decision marks a growing awareness in Japan of gender identity disorder, in which patients feel they are trapped in the wrong gender's body, although transgendered people and transsexuals still face widespread discrimination.

According to media reports, the boy in Hyogo, western Japan, was diagnosed with gender identity disorder before starting primary school after complaining that he felt uncomfortable with being a boy.

Based on the diagnosis and consultations with the boy's parents, the school is allowing him to participate as a girl, including using girls' bathrooms and attending swimming class in a girl's bathing suit.

Officials at the Hyogo board of education issued a statement neither confirming nor denying the reports, but saying they would protect the student's human rights and privacy.

Sex change operations have been legal in Japan since 1998 but are not permitted until patients become legal adults at 20. Preparatory hormone treatments are allowed from age 18.

In what was hailed as a major step forward, people with gender identity disorde, - whose numbers are estimated at more than 10,000, according to Kyodo news agency, - won the right in 2003 to change their gender on key identity documents under strict conditions.

Authorities had previously refused to allow gender changes except in the case of ''mistakes.'' REUTERS SB PM1201

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