As of today (1 July) the Dutch authorities have taken giant steps towards improving transgender rights. Officially transgendered people may have their sex changed in official documents such as passports on the basis of expert opinion. From today, however, sex change operations and hormone treatment will no longer be a compulsory measure to have their sex correctly identified in official documents.
For years the Netherlands have been seen as one of the most progressive sovereign nations in Europe. After Napoleon invaded the Dutch Republic, same-sex sexual activities were decriminalised. This was only infringed upon during the Nazi-occupation of World War 2 but was repealed immediately following the end of the war. In 2001 it became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriages. The new law allows citizens over age 18 to legally change gender after a six month ‘reflection period’ with no surgical procedure required
In April of this year, Transgender Europe released statistics showing the spread of transgender rights on the continent. The results show the majority of Europe still requires sterilization before allowing a transgender person to identify their gender identity correctly with nations such as France, Romania and Turkey being the main offenders. The UK, Netherlands and Germany don’t require such stringent measures. Hungary and Ireland are amongst those who still don’t allow legal gender identification.
There is hope that this landmark legislation will lead the way for other nations to follow.