Legal gender recognition in the Netherlands – an update
As you may have seen on the social media already, or on trans mailing-lists: change in Dutch gender recognition legislation just took a big leap this afternoon of 9 April 2013.
Already five years ago Dutch trans people contacted the minister for Emancipation (and Education, Science and Culture) complaining about the ridiculous and human rights violating legislation that goes back to 1985. The minister then promised to get it changed fast.
Fast forward to 2011. Human Rights Watch presents a report on the situation of trans people in the Netherlands and precisely then a watered down proposal is presented. National and international trans organizations complain heavily, only being happy with the removal of the requirement for medical (physical) interventions. After discussions and comments in the first (written) lecture in parliament some improvements are made.
Last week the debate took place and today the change proposal has been voted to continue to the next round, the Senate. After that only a signature of the head of state is needed for the law to come in to force.
What does the law entail when accepted?
- Every person with a Dutch birth certificate or residence can amend it without medical intervention. If at least 16 years old.
- Provided with an expert letter confirming the applicant’s durable conviction being of the other gender. The expert is to be a doctor or psychologist of the gender teams. Others are to be cleared by the gender teams.
- Go to the civil registry and it will be adapted.
- Evaluation of the law after five years
Amendments have been brought to the floor to change some important aspects:
- LGBT organisations (incl. the trans organisation) want a wider group of experts to be authorized to write an expert opinion, like social workers, reverends, sexologists, gender experts, trans organisations … Alas: rejected
- It has been requested to bring the evaluation term of the law back to three years because of the rapid developments in the field. Alas: rejected
- Lower the age limit to 12 years. Alas. Also rejected
- Also it has been requested to investigate the possibility for a third gender marker or nothing at all. This motion has been accepted. Results are to be in within two years (to prevent the ongoing UK “investigations”). The precise order has not yet been commissioned.
All in all a good result, but it leaves still room for improvement on essential points. Life for trans people will be enormously improved, probably per Jan 1, 2014 as hope is the changes will then have effect.
As a note: this has no implications for the availability of trans specific health care. These issues are not legally coupled.