A transgender woman in the city of Kyoto reached a settlement in a dispute over the use of female facilities in Konami Sports Club Co. The transgender woman had been unable to change her gender status on the family register due to her underage daughter when she was denied the request by the fitness club. The manager of the club forced her to use male facilities “as a man” in the way of “not causing inconveniences to other users.” She filed a lawsuit with the Kyoto District Court and reached a settlement this month.
Yuki Kono(a fictitious name), a transgender woman in the city of Kyoto, started using Konami Sports Club Co. in 2009. She was diagnosed as Gender Identity Disorder (GID) and underwent sex-change operation in March, 2014. However, she was unable to change her gender on the family registry because she had an underage daughter and she could not meet the requirement for the legal status change. She asked the fitness club for the use of female facilities after deciding to undergo sex- change operation, but the manager of the fitness club did not listen and denied the request. She called the headquarter of Konami Sports Club Co and asked them to talk the manager into meeting her. On Mach 5th, 2014, she could finally see the manager and talked to him. At first he told her that she could use female facilities after her sex- change operation, but later he changed his mind,saying “the headquarter told me to do so.” She could not understand why Konami Sports Club Co changed its decision suddenly and why people who had never seen her made this fatal decision without listening to her. She said “I am a woman. I have boobs and have done the surgery. My entire body looks like a woman and no women get upset when I’m naked. They might have known that if they had come and seen me.”
After the headquarter’s decision, the manager told her to use male facilities with male clothes. When she told him that it is discrimination, he said “Go sue me.” In December, 2015, she made up her mind to file a lawsuit against Konami Sports Club Co.
Konami Sports Club Co insisted that they never change its position and treat people according to the gender on the family registry. According to the documents revealed in the Court, Konami Sports Club Co has kept its policy not to “reject” transgender people, but to treat them according to the gender on the family registry since 2003. The in-house guidelines made in 2008 says that the company forces“anyone whose gender identity is unclear” to use its facilities “according to one’s gender on the family registry no matter what and makes sure such people will not make other customers feel uncomfortable.”
Kazuyuki Minami, the lawyer who represented her, pointed out that the guidelines set by Konami Sports Club Co are inappropriate.
“No one judges people’s gender only by looking up the family registry. It’s impossible to use family registry as the only way for a sport club to judge customers’ gender,“ said Mr. Minami.
Mrs. Kono said;
“Konami revealed a number of cases where they rejected people living with GID just because they were not able to change their gender on the family registry. I was very surprised and furious to know that. It is very uncomfortable and demeaning for me to be forced to use male facilities as a man, exposing my naked body to other men. I was not the only one who was forced to do so. What Konami has done is clearly discrimination against transgender people.”
Konami Sports Club Co never changed its position during the trial. No apologies were made. Under that circumstances, Mrs. Kono decided to reach a settlement because of the words from the judge, written on the settlement recommendation.
“One’s gender identity needs to be accepted by others in order for us to live. It is not acceptable at all for a business to discriminate against and deny services to those who ask for recognition of one’s desired gender.”
When she read it, she felt the judge understood her pain. “The words made me feel that it’s okay to live as who I am. This is the reason why I reached a settlement,” Mrs. Kono said.
“I filed a lawsuit for myself. I thought about not reaching a settlement again and again, but I could understand the judge was also angry with the discrimination. That was enough for me, so I reached a settlement,” Mrs. Kono said.
Mrs. Kono said in the media interview that she wants people to listen to transgender people, understand their heart and body conditions, and treat them based on their desired gender. Konami Sports Club Co commented that the company would make effort to sincerely deal with LGBT customers in the future. The Terms of Settlement is undisclosed, but it seems to be “as good as wining the lawsuit.”