A landmark law in Denmark making it easier for transgender people to change their legal gender should set an example to governments across the world, Amnesty International said.
The Danish parliament yesterday passed a bill allowing transgender people to obtain official documents reflecting their gender identity without needing to be diagnosed with a mental disorder or undergo surgeries resulting in irreversible sterilisation.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director, Amnesty International Ireland said: “This progressive and courageous step made by Danish MPs should set an example to Ireland, the rest of Europe and beyond,
“All states should ensure that transgender people can obtain legal recognition of their gender through a quick, accessible and transparent procedure in accordance with their own sense of their gender identity.”
All states should ensure that transgender people can obtain legal recognition of their gender through a quick, accessible and transparent procedure in accordance with their own sense of their gender identity.Colm O'Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland
Previously, Danish transgender people could only change their legal gender after receiving a psychiatric diagnosis of “transsexualism” or undergoing surgeries, irreversible sterilisation and other medical treatments including hormone treatments.
Similar repressive laws affecting transgender people still exist across the world. In Ireland no procedures currently exist to allow people to change their gender.
“Legal gender recognition is vital to preserve the right to privacy for transgender people, but the process must preserve their right to health and not impose on them mandatory requirements that violate their human rights,” said Colm O’Gorman
This new Danish law, which comes into force on 1 September 2014 is the first of its kind in Europe. Argentina is the only other country in the world where a similar model exists.
Amnesty International’s 2014 report, The State Decides Who I Am, reveals that European countries are violating the human rights of people trying to change their legal gender.
“Ireland 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. It should preserve their right to privacy and without imposing on them mandatory requirements that violate their human rights,” said Colm O’Gorman.
It is estimated that there could be as many as 1.5 million transgender people in the European Union.
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 sterilization, and have to prove that they are single. The whole process can take years.
In Ireland legal gender recognition legislation is planned and a General Scheme of a Bill was published in July 2013.’ In January of this year, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection published its report on the planned legislation, proposing some important improvements on the Scheme including that it be applicable to 16 and 17 year olds. Whilst this represents significant progress, the final Bill has not yet been published and there remains no clear indication of when this will happen.