Post submitted by Jane WothayaThirikwa, HRC Global Engagement Fellow:

The Netherlands has banned forced sterilization of transgender people and has passed a new law that simplifies ways to change gender registration in passports and other official documents. The law will take effect in July 2014.

Under current Dutch law, a person’s gender can only be changed in official documents after obligatory and often unwanted sterilization and gender modification operations, followed by judicial permission. Many transgender people therefore choose to live with official documents that do not correspond with their gender identities, creating challenges as they apply for jobs, access healthcare, and otherwise officially identify themselves.

The new law now simplifies the process for legal gender registration, allowing transgender people age 16 years and older to obtain an official statement of an expert, affirming that they wish to have their gender marker changed in accordance with their gender identity.

In a report on transgender rights in the European Member states, human rights bodies such as the Council of Europe and the United Nations reprimanded the Netherlands over their former transgender law and insisted on a modification. More than a dozen countries in Europe including Germany, Austria and Denmark have similar sterilization laws.

Earlier in 2013, Sweden also ended requirements that transgender people be sterilized or undergo surgery in order to change their gender identity on official documents.

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