Council of Europe – Human rights of transgender persons are still ignored or violated…


Human Rights Comment
Council of Europe
Commissioner for Human Rights

Forced divorce and sterilisation – a reality for many transgender persons

Posted on 2010-08-31 10:02

The rights of transgender persons are still ignored or violated, but some signs of understanding now begin to appear. One example is the outcome, at long last, of Lydia Foy’s struggle in Ireland. She was registered as male at birth but has lived as a woman since 1992. This summer she finally succeeded in her battle for legal recognition by the Irish state as a woman and for a birth certificate that reflects this reality.

Most people legally defined as man or woman will experience a corresponding gender identity. Transgender persons, however, do not have such a corresponding identity and may wish to change their legal, social, and sometimes also physical status.

The case initiated by Lydia Foy in 1997 led to a High Court ruling ten years later that Ireland was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights by not providing recognition of Dr. Foy in her preferred gender. It took the Irish government another 2.5 years to accept that Irish law is incompatible with the European Convention. In June 2010 the Irish government withdrew its appeal to the Supreme Court and will now recognise Lydia Foy as a woman.

The Irish government will introduce legislation to recognise transgender persons in their preferred gender including the possibility for them to obtain new birth certificates. An inter-departmental working group has been set up by the Irish government to develop a legal framework which respects the human rights of transgender individuals. It is crucial that representatives of the transgender community as well as other experts be represented in this working group. This could become a good model for other states which are currently considering improving their legal framework for transgender persons, including Portugal, Hungary, the Netherlands.

Still viewed as a mental disorder

Ireland is not the only country where transgender persons have faced obstacles in obtaining legal recognition of their preferred gender. Some Council of Europe member states still have no provision at all for official recognition, leaving transgender people in a legal limbo. Most member states still use medical classifications which impose the diagnosis of mental disorder on transgender persons.

Even more common are provisions which demand impossible choices, such as the “forced divorce” and the “forced sterilisation” requirements. This means that only unmarried or divorced transgender persons who have undergone surgery and become irreversibly infertile have the right to change their entry in the birth register. In reality, this means that the state prescribes medical treatment for legal purposes, a requirement which clearly runs against the principles of human rights and human dignity.

Some positive legal developments can however be found. The Austrian Administrative High Court ruled in 2009 that mandatory surgery could not be a prerequisite for gender change, and in Germany the Federal Supreme Court indicated in 2005 that operative interventions as a precondition for the change of gender are no longer tenable.

Full right to physical and moral security

All countries need to develop expeditious and transparent procedures for changing the name and gender of a transgender person on official documents, in accordance with the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights.

In 2002, in Goodwin v UK, the Strasbourg Court’s Grand Chamber stressed that in the twenty first century the rights of transgender persons should be effectively protected by states. They should have the same right to personal development and to physical and moral security enjoyed by others in society. One cannot but agree.

There is a strong need for an informed dialogue about the widespread discrimination against transgender persons in Europe today. One contribution will hopefully be a comparative study, the result of which my office will present early next year, on continued discrimination in all parts of Europe on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Thomas Hammarberg

Forced Sterilization?  WTF?

Sex Reassignment Surgery includes sterilization.  It is in the nature of the procedure.  I swear sometimes it seems as though transgender folks are opposed to sex reassignment surgery and want to end it the same way they insist on erasing Transsexual in the name of some imagined unity of identity under the rubric of “Transgender as Umbrella”.

This is bad form and discourages people with transsexualism from acting as part of a coalition on issues that concern all.

It is a denial of our needs and has been one of the major causes of the TS/TG War that has gone on for some 20 years now.

Sometimes, I swear I would be better off devoting energy to tree hugging and general worker’s rights issues.

Class War, not just for the rich anymore.

14 Responses to “Council of Europe – Human rights of transgender persons are still ignored or violated…”

  1. Susanna Boudrie Says:

    Hi Suzy
    Thomas Hammarberg is a well-meaning civil servant with an equivalent to An ambassador status at the Swedish foreign ministry. He also serves as the commissioner of human rights at the council of Europe (independent of the European Union). He is also very close to Swedish LGBT movement and has got this from the Swedish debate.

    The “forced sterilization” idea he has fetched from Angela Brihed, a one year post-op who making her career as a parliamentary candidate for the very conservative “liberal” (sic! Actually though libertarian) party by claiming that she was forced to sterilize to be recognized as a woman. She is evoking the guilt of the Swedish establishment for running the per capita worst forced sterilization program in the world of socially “unfit” women. In actually fact it is ridiculous since she was so eager to have her SRS that she went to Thailand to get it.

    The forced divorce issue has been raised by a friend of mine who had her SRS in the US three years ago. To get legal recognition as a woman she must divorce her wife of 15 years, which neither she or her wife wants. In the Swedish setting this is ridiculous as same-sex marriages are allowed. If she divorces she could become legally a woman and THEN marry her wife again, but she is not allowed to get the legal recognition IF she is married.


  2. Véronique Says:

    There are people in Quebec who are also using the “forced sterilization” idea to try to get recognition of the sex they say they are without SRS. It strikes me as a “have your cake and eat it too” kind of argument, but I admit I haven’t paid much attention — yet.

  3. Suzan Says:

    I actually support the rights of people to have their daily use identification support the sex they live as. I do not support separate dual identification for TVs but I do support dual name provisos.

    I get sick and tired of the umbrella because they force everyone to be transvestites. Even transgender people with hormones and top surgery or grow your own have made a physical commitment to be part of the sex category they want their ID to show them as being part of.

    Sometimes these weird queer theory type positions seem to be thought up by over privileged adherents to post-modern theory who haven’t thought at all about the consequences to real people who live out side the protected aegis of academe.

    I find many of the activists outside academe much more realistic in pushing for things that meet the majority of transsexual and transgender peoples needs.

  4. Andrea B Says:

    In legislation the forced sterilisation bit does need to be dropped. It is a hang over from Nazism, that no one needs.

    Transsexual people who have a snip and tuck or a strap-a-dick-to-me are sterilised naturally as part of the process.

    Where this bullshit actually comes from is newbies who still have not figured out they can tell LGBTZXQR or whatever to fuck of as they can not yet think for themselves.

    They are told to identify as trans. I have seen the abuse metted out to them if they state they are not either straight or LGB since surgery. They are not accepted in there new sex by the LGB people who are giving the orders and literally abusing them to there faces, calling them homophobic anytime they question not being called lesbian, gay or straight as a seperate identification to trans. The LGB ram down there throats they are trans. The parrallels to how the BBL treat transsexual people are very noticeable.

    They are tame TS’s who are told by LGB activists what they must say. They actually do as they are told by people who are every bit as abusive as psychiatrists. They eventually realise they are being abused, but at that point the LGB activists have already lined up the next puppet on a string to take there place.

  5. haku Says:

    It is absolutely BS that Amanda Brihed (Susanna Boudrie even got her name wrong!) is the sole person responsible for this debate. Amanda has been very visible lately, trying to make a name for herself and getting a place in parliament in the upcoming election. But this rhetoric of “forced sterilization” has been used in the on going debate by Swedish trans activist for years now, long before Amanda came on the scene… The real issue at hand is that the swedish law that regulates “sex changes” and witch dates back as far as 1972, routinely is being construed, as not allowing for storing of sperm or eggs, for later usage in becoming a parent after srs/grs (a possibility that weren’t available back in 1972).

  6. haku Says:


    All of this is of course very much more important to the early transitioners who usually don’t have kids and who also happen to more often come from within the gay community… as opposed to the late ones, who often already have children and routinely have a background as heterosexual cross dressers.

    • Suzan Says:

      Actually having kids is not for everyone. I know I am glad I never passed my DNA on. Fertile mind/sterile body… Proud of making that decision at a young age.

  7. haku Says:

    Are you implying that it’s your opinion that transsexuals should not have children?

    I made this decision years ago also, not because of some self hating reason of not wanting to pass my DNA on though. Still, today I can’t be around babies without feeling a sting i my heart… and being reminded that I probably will feel quite alone in my old age, not having grandchildren. Also I deprived my mother of that joy of grandchildren. Adoption is not an option where I live. Legally we have the right to adopt. But the actual agencies supposedly have regulations preventing anyone with a previous psychiatric diagnosis from adopting. I actually don’t know any transsexual at all that has adopted children. Surely I understand sisters and brothers not wanting to be have this option taken away form them by default.

    • Suzan Says:

      Are you implying that it’s your opinion that transsexuals should not have children?

      I made this decision years ago also, not because of some self hating reason of not wanting to pass my DNA on though.

      Self hating. How fucking dare you try and pathologize some thing that was an extremely sane, rational and ethical life choice. I did not want to be a father. I wanted to be female and I did it at a young age. I wanted an interesting life. I did not want to be a single parent nor be responsible for child support. And no I did not wish to risk passing on my genes.

      There are way too many people on the planet. Those of us who opt to remain child free should be lauded.

      In reality I was sexually under developed and may not have been able to father a child.

      I would have liked to become a history teacher but that also was not in the cards as I was too obvious and too red, anarcho/syndicalist to get a teaching license.

      Obviously it isn’t taken away by default as there are large numbers of people with transsexualism who defer transition until after they have been parents.

  8. Susanna Boudrie Says:

    The forced sterilisation debate has nothing to do with saving sperma or eggs. That’s another issue, which we have been protesting for a decade. And that is not in the law, it is an interpretation of the governing body, Rättsliga rådet. Actually the law regulates very few things. Most of the regulation is done by the two psychiatrists controlling the Rättsliga rådet.

    Don’t give me the smear shit about older and younger ts’. All the organisations have praised the new study of the national health authority, except Benjamin that don’t accept the proposal for two reasons: that it proposes a continued psychopathologization of transsexuals and that it proposes a

  9. Susanna Boudrie Says:

    …sorry I continue
    Continued outlawing of treatment of transsexuals under 18

  10. Andrea B Says:

    @ haku,

    The people enforcing transsexual people in Sweden not being allowed to store gamates, is psychiatrists, not any government agency, contrary to misdirection by transgenderists and LGB activists.

    RFSL’s lobbying is irrational nonsense, which is hiding a lot of problems and forcing transvestitism onto transsexual people. They create more problems than they solve.

    The fact is, young transsexual people need to be allowed to transition and have surgery, as well as being given the option of storing gametes if they wish.

    Also young transitioners are not more likely to come from within the LGB community. That is another lie put forward by transgenderists and RFSL.

    Early transitioners usually intend to go stealth very fast, whihc is why RFSL will not lobby for them and finds it acceptable they are not given surgery.

    Also given RFSL’s history of campaigning for paedophilia in the 70’s, they should not be allowed to campaign on any subject that affects children, intersex, transsexual or any other group.

  11. Andrea B Says:

    @ Haku,

    Regarding Amanda Brihed being a candidate for Folkpartiet for Swedish parliament.

    It is obvious from her own words that she is standing on a she is trans and nothing else platform, which will attract no voters and most likely put people of voting for her and Folkpartiet. Having had a sex change is a matter of medical history, not a reason to vote for someone.

    Her concept of privacy leaves a lot to be desired.

    Fortunately she is not running in my area. I intend to vote for either center or folkpartiet and will only vote for competant political candidates.

    Amanda Brihed trying to compare herself to Amanda Simpson, is really taking the piss. There is no comparison. Simpson is competant and capable of doing a good job. Brihed is running on a platform of being trans, politically correct and not much else.

    There is significantly more able transsexual people in Sweden, than her.

    In the election in Sweden, I definately will not be voting for either the Social Democrats who hate Jews in Malmö or Sweden Democrats who hate not only muslims, but most likely the entire human race.

    Strangely every Sweden Democrat voter I have met, appears to be a disgruntled ex-social democrat. Sounds to me like they are swapping whom they hate.

  12. Anna Says:

    I know nothing of the situation in Sweden but I am pretty sure that the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner, despite being Swedish, has had this idea pressed upon him from elsewhere, and earlier, too. It features in his report ‘Human Rights and Gender Identity’ of July 2009, it is alluded to in the Yogyakarta Principles, and the first time I find it framed in this manner (as a broad smear rather than about specific rules, such as were alleged in apartheid South Africa, or in the former soviet block) is in Stephen Whittle’s 1996 paper ‘ Gemeinschaftsfremden – Or How To Be Shafted By Your Friends: Sterilisation Requirements And Legal Status Recognition For The Transsexual’.

    Since Mr Whilttle was one of the authors of the Yogyakarta Principles and an advisor on the Council of Europe report, I would hazard a guess that it might be down to him.

    Now, whilst obviously coercing anyone into anything medical (including a mental disorder diagnosis) is always unacceptable, and should be illegal, I find the smearing of our surgeons, who take very great care to ensure informed and free consent, as performing involuntary sterilization well into the realm of hate speech, not to mention libelous. It is certainly likely to reduce the number and quality of surgeons available to us.

    Who is going to do surgery if their patient’s signature affirming consent could be invalidated as forced?

    I’m certain that the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner does not intend that, but he is very ill-advised to be so joining with those who constantly campaign against the availability of our essential, and life-saving surgery. He would, instead, be better condemning the forced mental illness diagnoses and the forced inappropriate puberties that ruin lives.

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