On Wednesday 12th July the French National Assembly approved an amendment, which would introduce the first law regulating legal gender recognition in the country. The proposed procedure for changing name and recorded gender marker is part of a larger law “Justice in the 21st century”.
French activists are divided in their assessment of the proposed procedure. The proposal foresees the request before a judge, only accessible to adults and those minors with full legal capacity (minor emancipé).
“Any adult or emancipated minor who demonstrates by an adequate combination of facts that the reference to sex in civil status does not match the one in which they occur and in which they are known can obtain the change.
The principles of these facts, can be proven by any means, such as:
- That one has publicly stated to belong to the requested sex;
- That one is known as the requested sex amongst family, friends or professional;
- That one has obtained a change of name to match the requested sex; ” (§65.1)
There is consensus that the complete demedicalisation of the procedure is an important step forward. It is not necessary to provide any medical proofs: “The fact of not having undergone medical treatment, surgery or sterilization cannot motivate the refusal to grant the request.” (§61.6)
France currently faces three cases before the European Human of Human Rights for requesting sterility in its current gender recognition practice.
Activists criticize that the process is not based on self-determination but will continue to depend on the decision of a judge, as in the current practiced case law. While it will not be necessary to have a lawyer, access to legal aid to legal council and support would be considerably diminished. This places persons with less economic means in a disadvantaged position. The preferred alternative would be a simple declaratory application before a civil servant at a local mayor’s office.
While “emancipated minors” will have access to the law, this concerns only a very small group of people. (Emancipated minors have been given full legal capacity equal to an adult by a judge in cases of parental incapacity, neglect or underage marriage.) The majority of underage trans people will not be able to access the proposed procedure.
After summer recess, the law project will be considered by the Senate, before the National Assembly will have a final vote in autumn.
French activists continue to work to ensure that legal gender recognition will be accessible to all minors, but also campaign for a procedure based on self-determination which no longer depends on court proceedings.
Debate and vote of the National Assembly on Article 18 quater on 12th July 2016: http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/14/cri/2015-2016-extra/20161010.asp#P840778
22 June 2016, Joint statement by Amnesty International, ILGA-Europe and Transgender Europe
17 May 2016
28 July 2015