New Report Documents Discrimination Faced by Transgender People in Europe

Today Amnesty International launched the groundbreaking report, The state decides who I am: lack of legal recognition for transgender people in Europe.

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This report documents the human rights violations experienced by transgender people when they wish to change their legal gender.

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In highlighting these requirements, including psychiatric diagnosis, medical procedures and divorce, it underscores the plight of transgender people who are forced to choose which rights to give up in order to enjoy others.

The report stresses how procedures to obtain legal gender recognition violate fundamental human rights in Ireland, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, Belgium and Germany. The report was launched in Dublin and Copenhagen simultaneously.

“TENI welcomes this new report by Amnesty International as it provides evidence of the human rights violations facing trans people in Europe,” said TENI Chief Executive Broden Giambrone. “This report clearly makes the case that legal gender recognition is a human right and is integral to safeguarding the dignity and privacy of trans people.”

“Many transgender people in Europe have to overcome enormous difficulties in coming to terms with their identity, and problems are often compounded by blatant state discrimination,” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland. “People have to make an odious decision. Either they allow themselves to be subjected to a raft of degrading steps and measures for the state or they are forced to continue to live with a gender based on the sex they were assigned at birth – even if that contradicts their appearance and identity.”

Consequences of Not Being Recognised

The report examined and documented how the lack of legal recognition in Ireland negatively impacts the daily lives of transgender people.

“The lack of legal recognition is a major issue for Irish trans people. When there are discrepancies in our legal documents, we are outed against our will and left vulnerable to discrimination, harassment and even violence. We are denied the basic right to respect for our private and family lives and this urgently needs to be addressed,” said TENI Executive Administrator Ben Power at today’s launch in Dublin.

Also speaking at the Dublin launch was Catherine Cross, mother of a transgender son and member of TransParenCI. “Gender recognition legislation has the capacity to enhance and make a real difference in the life of my son. It will allow him to participate in society feeling valued and recognised for who he really is. It will allow him the dignity of entering adulthood as simply male instead of constantly explaining his Trans* status. Transgender is part of who he is but not what defines him.”

TENI Chair Sara R. Phillips joined Amnesty International in Denmark for the international launch of the report. Ms. Phillips raised the issue of the proposed requirement that trans people would need to be single, meaning that married trans people may be forced to get divorced before they can be legally recognised. “In the Irish constitution, article no 41.3 says the state pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of marriage, on which the family is founded, and protect it against attack. How does it propose to defend it against its own attack? What about families of the transgender community, should they not be defended?”

Progressing Rights-based Gender Recognition Legislation

Amnesty International joins TENI and other civil society groups calling on the Irish Government to legislate for legal gender recognition without further delay.

The report calls on the Government of Ireland to “Ensure that the Gender Recognition Bill will not require transgender people to be single or to have undergone any specific health treatment to obtain legal gender recognition. Moreover, ensure that children will be given the possibility to obtain legal gender recognition taking into account their best interests and their evolving capacities.”

“States must ensure that transgender people can obtain legal recognition of their gender through a quick, accessible and transparent procedure in accordance with the individual’s own sense of their gender identity. It should preserve their right to privacy and without imposing on them mandatory requirements that violate their human rights,” said Colm O’Gorman.

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