The Rally for Recognition was organised by TEA
(Trans* Education and Advocacy) at DCU, Dublin, September 2012.
© Alison McDonnell
There are obviously transgender people who would like to access some of the available health treatments, but many others do not. States should not force the choices of transgender people by making legal gender recognition dependent on surgeries, hormone treatment or sterilisation.
Europe: Transgender people face discrimination and inhuman and degrading treatment
(Brussels, 4 February 2014) European countries are violating the human rights of people trying to change their legal gender, said Amnesty International in a report published today. It details how transgender people are forced to undergo invasive surgery, such as sterilisation, hormone therapy, and psychiatric testing before they can change their legal status.
It is estimated that there could be as many as 1.5 million transgender people in the European Union (EU). Amnesty International’s report, “The state decides who I am: lack of legal gender recognition for transgender people in Europe”, focuses on seven European countries. It highlights how procedures to obtain legal gender recognition violate fundamental human rights in Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, Belgium and Germany. And how in Ireland no procedure exists at all, though legislation in this area is planned.
“There are obviously transgender people who would like to access some of the available health treatments, but many others do not. States should not force the choices of transgender people by making legal gender recognition dependent on surgeries, hormone treatment or sterilisation,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination. “Many transgender people have to overcome enormous difficulties in coming to terms with their identity, and problems are often compounded by blatant state discrimination.”
In many states, there are strict conditions under which individuals can change their legal gender. Transgender people can obtain legal gender recognition only if they are diagnosed with a mental disorder, agree to undergo medical procedures such as hormone treatments and surgeries resulting in irreversible sterilisation, and can prove that they are single. The whole process can take years.
“States must ensure that transgender people can obtain legal recognition of their gender through a quick, accessible and transparent procedure in accordance with the individual’s own sense of their gender identity, while preserving their right to privacy and without imposing on them mandatory requirements that violate their human rights,” added Perolini. “People have to make an odious decision – either they allow themselves to be subjected to a raft of degrading steps and measures on the behest of the state; or they are forced to continue to live with a gender based on the sex they were assigned at birth – even if that contradicts their appearance and identity.”
Amnesty International is also calling for the EU to ensure all transgender people are protected from discrimination based on gender identity, irrespective of whether or not they have undertaken gender reassignment. Protection measures should be included and reflected in all existing and future EU legislation and policies in the field of anti-discrimination and in the area of freedom, security and justice.
Legal gender recognition is key for the enjoyment of human rights by transgender people. Transgender people are at risk of being discriminated against whenever they have to produce documents mentioning a name or gender-related information that do not reflect their gender identity and expression.
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