A new transgender rights law in The Netherlands now allows transgender people to change the gender designation on their official identity papers and eliminates requirements for an applicant to take hormones and undergo surgery. It also requires a medical expert statements affirming the person’s permanent conviction belonging to another gender, and requires the minimum age to request a change at age 16.
This new law effects the Netherlands, Denmark and Ireland.
“The new Dutch law will make a huge difference in the lives of Dutch transgender people,” said Boris Dittrich, advocacy director for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights program at Human Rights Watch. “The new law will give transgender people the legal recognition they need to live according to their preferred gender without intrusive and abusive medical requirements.”
Transgender law isn’t the only thing changing in Denmark. Starting September 1, a new Danish law on legal gender recognition will take effect.
This law will not require a medical expert opinion, though the minimum age will be 18 and also requires a six-month waiting period in which the applicant must reconfirm their decision to change genders.
The Irish Parliament has been given a drafted bill requiring the minimum age of transgender applicants to be 16, though 16 and 17 year olds will require parental consent, a physician’s letter, and a court order or apply for legal gender recognition. The parliament will be discussing this bill later this year.
Human Rights Watch believes each case should be addressed on an individual basis without a minimum age requirement because kids under 16 may also benefit from a gender change.
Currently, Argentina is seen as the country with the most progressive gender recognition law. It permits kids under 18 to change their gender if a legal representative submits the request, and if not the child can appeal the decision to a judge. It also does not require surgical or hormonal intervention.
“The Dutch requirement for an expert opinion could lead to long waiting lists, because only a limited group of medical professionals are currently designated as experts,” Dittrich said. “The requirement is at odds with transgender people’s rights to personal autonomy when they want to determine their own identity without third party interference.