In the Czech Republic, if you are a transgender person and you wish to fully transition you will be sterilized. That’s what a policy does, it forces transgender people to do it, it is not only a life-altering, and potentially life-threatening, medical procedures to have their gender recognized, but it also violates the right to health, according to the European Committee of Social Rights.
The current Czech law means some “transgender persons in the Czech Republic may be forced to accept to undergo a medical sterilization, a serious medical intervention, with risks of side effects and complications, and which is not medically necessary, in order to have their gender identity recognized,” the committee said.
Non-governmental groups ILGA-Europe and Transgender Europe argued that the Czech Republic’s requirements for legal gender recognition violated the European Social Charter, a Council of Europe treaty focused on social and economic rights.
In 2015, Transgender Europe and ILGA-Europe brought the case to the committee that evaluates governments’ compliance with the treaty. The committee made the ruling public this month. They found the Czech Republic to be in violation of Article 11, on the “right to protection of health.”
“State recognition of a person’s gender identity is itself a right recognised by international human rights law,” the social rights committee noted.
The two groups were “greatly relieved” by the committee’s decision, they said. “Forced sterilization of trans people is still happening in the Czech Republic. This is inhumane and has to stop!”
A different approach must be adopted, the UK government is currently in the consultation phase of amending the country’s Gender Recognition Act.
Trans rights activists are hoping that soon enough the government will adopt reforms similar to those in place in Argentina and Denmark, where transgender people do not need to prove that they really are transgender with medical certificates.
They have the right to legally self-declare their own gender without any medical assessments.
In the Czech Republic, however, activists are concerned that drafted government reforms do not go far enough. Importantly, current proposals suggest sexologists will grant or deny a trans person application for gender recognition.
In a recent statement, the Czech Association of Sexologists said that castration should remain a requirement in legal gender recognition.
“We remain concerned that doctors who call for the forced sterilization of trans people are considered experts and will remain gatekeepers”, TGEU and ILGA-Europe said. “While trans people in the Czech Republic remain shut-out in a hasty and non-transparent process”.
“State recognition of a person’s gender identity is itself a right recognized by international human rights law,” the social rights committee noted, “and is important for guaranteeing the full enjoyment of all human rights.”
This judgement should prompt the Czech government to change its law, and it should resonate with governments across Europe as a call to action.
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