Surgery no longer required for legal gender change in Czech Republic following landmark ruling

In a 13-2 vote, the Czech Constitutional Court voted to strike down previous legislation requiring trans people to undergo surgery before being able to legally change their gender.

A photo of the Czech Republic flag overlooking a scenic river.
Image: Shutterstock, The Czech Republic high court has overturned legislation that required trans people to undergo surgery to legally change their gender.

A landmark decision from the Czech Republic’s top court has struck down a law that previously required trans individuals to undergo surgery in order to change their gender on the country’s register officially. The decision, voted on by the Czech Republic’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday, May 8, puts trans Czech people on even footing with other EU member states. 

According to Reuters, the case was brought to the Constitutional Court by a trans man who wished to change his gender marker on official Czech documents without undergoing surgery. The court agreed with the complainant, calling the previous legislation “unconstitutional” and “a violation of human dignity.”

The 15-judge court voted to overturn the legislation in a 13-2 ruling, saying that it was “at odds with the fundamental right of trans people for the protection of their physical integrity in relation to their human dignity.” 

The recently struck-down legislation similarly required trans individuals to undergo permanent surgeries, such as the removal of ovaries and testes, whereas alternative methods, such as medication, vasectomy, and tubal ligation, are all reversible. 

Wednesday’s decision from the court gives the Czech Republic’s parliament until 2025 to alter the current legislation. While the court’s decision might be seen as a win for the trans community in the Czech Republic, the country’s parliament could potentially alter the law in ways that will further complicate trans people’s journey to legally changing their gender. For example, they could introduce other roadblocks such as mandatory waiting periods, additional government forms, and requiring additional documentation from medical professionals. 

At present, the vast majority of EU member states do not require trans individuals to undergo sex organ or sterilisation surgeries in order to change their gender on official registers. Following the Czech Republic’s recent decision, only three EU member states still require surgery as part of their official gender recognition procedures.

Czech Human Rights Commissioner Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková praised the court’s recent decision, writing, “Congratulations to all transgender people in our country. Today is an important milestone on the road to greater dignity and protection of your rights. I am very happy.”

Earlier in February, the Czech Chamber of Deputies approved a motion to amend the country’s Civil Code to allow same-sex couples more rights under legal partnerships. However, lawmakers stopped short of approving marriage equality, and those in same-sex partnerships in Czechia will not benefit from all of the same rights as those in heterosexual unions.

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