The transgender community in France has reason to celebrate as the country passed legislation removing the sterilization and medicalization requirement to undergo gender transition.
The move comes after a two-year battle to remove the requirements. Sterilization, the process of rendering a person unable to reproduce, has been a practice that has only been relegated to the transgender community by France in recent years. The practice of involuntary sterilization has been widely condemned as a human rights violation, including by the United Nations.
The legislation also removes the requirement to undergo gender reassignment surgery in order to change one’s gender marker. Since 2014, countries such as Denmark, Malta and Ireland have allowed their citizens to legally change their gender by simply informing authorities while not requiring any form of medical or state intervention.
“There is no other population in the world that is asked to be sterilized apart from transgender.”
The ILGA-Europe network of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups welcomed the change in French law. “These are years of sparring that finally come to fruition,” ILGA spokeswoman Sophie Aujean told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “There is no other population in the world that is asked to be sterilized apart from transgender.” Some groups are still unhappy because the legislation still requires a court order to change one’s gender marker in France.
Data regarding how many people the law would affect is currently unavailable because transgender citizens are not counted as part of the census in France. Many activists believe the number is in the tens of thousands. According to a 2014 report by the European Union, transgender people are twice as likely as gay people to be attacked, threatened or insulted in Europe. To many, the new legislation in France is considered to be a step in the right direction towards improving those statistics.