Thursday, December 19, 2013

Netherlands Passes Groundbreaking Trans Identity Law! the Netherlands, trans rights advocates are celebrating a major win in that western European nation with the passage of a Gender Identity Law that does not require sterilization, court orders or genital surgery as prerequisites to change gender markers on documentation. 

It passed with a lopsided 51-24 vote of Dutch lawmakers in The Hague on Tuesday, and when the new law takes effect July 1, Dutch citizens aged 16 and older will only require a statement from an expert attesting to the trans person's desire to do so to match their gender identity.

The move to do so was driven by a report on the human rights of trans people in European states which called out The Netherlands over their previous unjust law and demanded a modification of it.
Despite the major win, there were trans rights groups who felt that the proposals pushed by Justice State Secretary Fred Teeven and enacted into law didn't go far enough.  Some parties wanted to lower the age consent threshold for SRS from 16 to 12.  Teeven said that he considered that too early and pointed out that boys in puberty often wrestle with their identity. 

"This law is a victory for transgender people in the Netherlands," the chairpersons of Transgender Network Netherlands and COC Netherlands say in a statement. "There is an end to all the humiliating situations that transgenders still daily deal with because the sex designation on their paper is different from the gender in which they live."   

There were elements of the Dutch trans community who pushed for an Argentinian style Gender Identity Law provision in which you don't need a doctor's statement to change identity documents.

Human Rights Watch also hailed the new law as a positive step.

“The new law is an important step toward equality for transgender people in the Netherlands,” said Boris Dittrich, advocacy director in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “It puts people in a much stronger position to change their gender identity without intrusive and abusive medical requirements.” 

It's a huge improvement from the previous status quo in which a transperson seeking to change their documentation to match their gender identity not only had to be sterilized, but undergo genital surgery or other unwanted gender modification operations, followed by having to get judicial permission to do so.

That created situations in which Dutch transpeople who objected to the sterilization, genital surgery requirement or judicial intervention chose to live their lives with official documents that didn't correspond with their current gender presentation.    That created problems for them as they applied for jobs, tried to access healthcare, traveled and otherwise had to use that documentation to officially identify themselves.

Since the law had already passed the other Dutch parliamentary chamber, all it needs is King Willem-Alexander's signature to become official.

The new law when it goes into effect in July will go a long way toward solving some of those problems  .

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