Photo/IllutrationA sample job application form for the Setagaya Ward government, foreground, lacks a field for providing gender information, which is present in the corresponding sample for a unified job application form for the 23 Tokyo wards.(Taichiro Yoshino)

Out of consideration for sexual minorities, two Tokyo wards have dropped gender information fields from their application forms for some of their available job categories.

Officials of the Suginami and Setagaya ward governments said they did so for reasons including that sexual minorities with a gender identity disorder are not designated properly in their family register.

Aya Kamikawa, a transgender member of the Setagaya Ward assembly, welcomed the moves of the two ward governments and wants the practice to spread to other municipal governments as well.

“Gender is not part of the minimum necessary information that public administrative bodies should collect in the stage of recruiting and screening job applicants,” Kamikawa said. “Public administrative bodies, which should be sensitive to sexual discrimination, should stop calling for providing gender information at the gateway to employment. I want the moves to spread broadly.”

Most employees of Tokyo ward governments are hired through a recruitment process that is common to all 23 wards. The latest measure therefore only covers limited job categories where the applicants are screened and hired independently by the respective ward governments.

The Suginami Ward government removed the gender info fields from some of its application forms last year. The Setagaya Ward government followed suit, starting in August this year.

Suginami Ward dropped the gender info requirement for applicants for regular jobs in five categories--clerical workers (social education), welfare workers (psychology, child care, etc.), general technical workers (curator), medical workers (nutritionist, nurse, etc.) and skilled workers (driver, janitor, etc.)--and applicants for part-time jobs.

Setagaya Ward did the same only with part-time jobs and jobs of the “skilled workers” category. Ward government officials said there was no time to apply the measure to other job categories when the discussions began.

Officials of both ward governments said they decided that gender information is unnecessary, at least in the screening stage, although successful applicants will still be asked to give their gender info, which is necessary for signing up for health insurance and other procedures.

They said the ward governments are also dropping gender info fields from other documents, including an application form for obtaining a copy of a residence certificate, on the grounds of a special measures law that took effect in 2004 and calls for exercising consideration for people with gender identity disorders.

When Kamikawa was first elected to the Setagaya Ward assembly in 2003, she was not allowed to change her gender designation in the family register, so she was living the life of a woman but remained a man in the family register.

“When your gender in your social life is different from your gender on paper, that makes it difficult to identify yourself in health care, elections, real estate transactions and other areas,” Kamikawa said. “How your gender is represented in official documents can be a matter of your life.”

The governments of other municipalities in Japan, including Echizen, Fukui Prefecture, and Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, have also dropped gender info fields from their job application forms.

However, most of the employees of the 23 Tokyo ward governments, including clerical workers, are being recruited through unified tests of the “special wards personnel committee,” and the corresponding application forms retain gender information fields.

Applicants for the five aforementioned job categories, by contrast, are being screened and hired independently by the respective ward governments on commission from the special wards personnel committee. The recruitment of part-time workers is left to the discretion of the individual ward governments, which explains why the two ward governments could take the independent measures.