SEOUL, Nov. 24 (Yonhap) -- The Supreme Court ruled Thursday it is illegal to deny transgender people the right to change their legal sex status solely on the grounds that they have underage children.
The ruling was made in a request filed in 2019 by a naturally born man who underwent a sex reassignment operation and a divorce to become a woman seeking to have her legal sex status revised.
Both a family court and an appellate court had rejected the request on the grounds that she has underage children, a decision that was in line with a court decision in 2011 denying a legal sex change to those who have a spouse or an underage child.
The courts at that time cited "psychological confusion and shock" underage children could be subject to upon their parent's sex reassignment.
The top court on Thursday overturned the previous rulings and sent the case back to the Seoul Family Court for retrial.
"It is not right to deny a revision of the sex status solely on the grounds that (the applicant) has underage children," the court said.
It said such a legal correction, being only a revision on paper, does not newly incur major changes in the applicant's relations with the children.
"It is not fair to assume that correcting the legal sex of a parent constitutes an act of negligence exposing underage children to social prejudice and discrimination," the court said.
"Transgender people have the right to have the sex matching their sexual identities legally recognized in order to exercise ... their right to pursue happiness," the court also noted.
A Supreme Court official added the latest ruling applies only to single transgender parents with underage children, not those in marriage with underage children.
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