Sept 1, 2014
Today, on Sept 1, 2014, the Danish gender recognition law – the first in Europe based on the self-determination of the individual – has come into effect. The new law abolishes any requirements for medical interventions, such as a psychiatric diagnosis, sterilisation or hormonal treatment. Instead, a simple administrative procedure allows applicants to receive a new gendered social security number and matching personal documents such as a passport, driving license and birth certificate in accordance with the new gender.
TGEU warmly welcomes these important changes as a benchmark for policy makers across Europe. However, TGEU is concerned about the waiting period of 6 months that is introduced with this law, as well as the minimum age requirement of 18 years.
Under the new law, applicants for gender recognition have to refresh their application after a waiting period of six months. According to Danish lawmakers, this measure was introduced to prevent persons from making hasty decisions they would later regret. However, this imposed delay in the procedure prevents trans people from changing their documents quickly when necessary, for example when applying for a job, travelling internationally or enrolling in education. Furthermore, TGEU is concerned that the waiting period may also perpetuate misconceptions of trans people as being “confused” about their gender, instead of encouraging them to change their documents quickly so that they can participate fully and freely in all aspects of life.
Underage trans people have to wait even longer until they can access the gender recognition procedure. WPATH, the leading organisation on transgender health care, and human rights institutions, such as the Irish Ombudsman for Children or the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner, note that there are no medical or legal reasons to insist on limiting legal gender recognition to persons of 18 and older. According to WPATH, a very high proportion of trans teenagers continue to live in their self-determined gender after adolescence. As trans people come out at an increasingly young age, it is crucial for the social recognition and acceptance of their identities, as well as for their self-esteem and personal development, that they are not excluded from legal recognition and, as a consequence, from education and employment opportunities.
TGEU encourages the Danish government to closely monitor the implementation of the law and to remove all provisions that delay quick access to legal gender recognition.
Find out more about Legal Gender Recognition in Europe: www.tgeu.org/AccessAllAreas
The text of the Danish law proposal can be found here (Danish)
Irish Ombudsman for Children Advice (2013)
WPATH Standards of Care (Version 7)