(Bloomberg) -- Transgender people in Hong Kong should be allowed to change their gender on their government-issued ID without undergoing sex reassignment surgery, the city’s top court ruled on Monday. 

Trans people who legally changed their names and physical appearance could previously update their identity cards, but Hong Kong’s civil registry refused to change the gender marker for those who hadn’t had sex reassignment surgery. 

In the decision written by Chief Justice Andrew Cheung and Justices PJ Ribeiro and PJ Fok, the Court of Final Appeal found that the policy violated the right to privacy protected in Hong Kong’s Bill of Rights. 

“The societal benefits of (Hong Kong’s) policy are in many respects illusory and at best relatively slim,” they wrote. The policy requires trans people to “chose whether to suffer regular violations of their privacy rights or to undergo highly invasive and medically unnecessary surgery, infringing their right to bodily integrity,” they said.

The court cited a number of other jurisdictions in which citizens are legally allowed to change their gender without offering proof of sex reassignment surgery, which typically requires the removal of reproductive organs and reconstruction of genitalia, often referred to as “bottom surgery.” 

China last year amended its own requirements for trans people to legally change their gender, according to a report in the China Project. It now requires one measure of sex reassignment surgery — genital removal — but dropped the requirement for reconstruction and lowered the minimum age to access such procedures from 20 to 18. 

Hong Kong has separate courts from the mainland under the one country two systems framework that was set up before the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule in 1997.

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