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Netherlands adopts landmark gender identity law, bans forced sterilization

Thursday, December 19, 2013
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Netherlands has adopted landmark legislation banning forced sterilization and allowing transgender people to change their identity on official documents with the requirement of gender reassignment surgery.

Binnenhof, meeting place of the Dutch parliament in The Netherlands.

Markus Bernet
Binnenhof, meeting place of the Dutch parliament in The Netherlands.

The Dutch Senate adopted the law on Wednesday, with 51 senators voting in favor and 24 against.

The new Dutch law applies to anyone 16 years of ago or older, and requires only a statement from an expert before registering the person’s preferred gender in official state documents.

The previous Dutch transgender law required that any change in gender registration required a gender reassignment surgery and irreversible sterilization. Both requirements have now been deleted.

Carolien van de Lagemaat chair of the Transgender Network Netherlands group hailed the new law as “victory for transgender people in the Netherlands.”

Van de Lagemaat said the change would greatly alleviate problems transgender people face on a daily basis while applying for a new job, showing identification, obtaining health care, and using public transportation.

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Human rights bodies such as the Council of Europe and the United Nations have previously reprimanded the Netherlands over the current transgender law and insisted on a modification of the law.

Boris Dittrich, Dutch advocacy director of the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch (HRW), told LGBTQ Nation: “The new law is a huge step forward for transgender people who do not wish to alter their body but would like to obtain new ID papers.”

“The old law required them to undergo gender reassignment surgery and they be irreversibly sterilized,” he said. “That these requirements have been deleted makes a big difference in the daily lives of transgender Dutch people who needed to identify themselves with IDs that did not match their preferred gender.”

Dittrich added that requirements of the age of consent for transitioning and expert approval will be up for re-examination within three years and could then be done away with.

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