From the beginning of 2014 Vreerwerk will offer a training in human rights with a focus on transgender and intersex issues. This course aims at staff of government and inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations, students and activists interested in trans* and intersex issues that need a basis in human rights for their work, but are not looking for an expensive academic course. Continue reading
The proposal for change of the existing gender recognition legislation in the Netherlands is out. This proposal will be debated on the floor. It is – as the previous version – not good enough. Actually it hardly changed since last time we saw it.
The news came in the mail. An update of the website of the Justice and Security ministry. The proposal for change of gender recognition legislation is ready for second reading. Written comments have been worked through and answered. The secretary of state for Justice and Security apparently was not impressed by the questions and by the comments of the trans-movement. We are not impressed by him. Never were. Some refreshers:
- It took a Human Rights Watch report for government to come up (immediately!) with a proposal for change.
- This after some three years of talking and checking back with the legal advisor of government and of several ministers speaking of their worry for the current situation.
- Extensive comments for all national (TNN, COC, ..) and international (TGEU, HRW, GATE) stakeholders have been given.
- Then again the government needed reminding not to stall. Promise is debt.
- Comments again from national actors went to all political parties that took up several important questions but – of course not required – government took up maybe one point
- The trans movement is only taken seriously where it is advantageous for government
So what does the proposal of Dutch neoliberal cum ex-social ex-democrats comprise?
- An expert in gender dysphoria must check if you are sincere and that you have an enduring conviction. If you are not deluded or doing it out of delusion. If it is not done out of criminal intent
- Appointed gatekeepers consist of current doctors and psychologists gender teams, and others accorded by the ministry. They proposed a nice package deal.
- “Real Life Experience” or long time living in the role of preference has no influence on the legal part of the process. But gatekeepers may take that more serious than other expressions of trans-gender
- You must be at least 16 years of age
- After giving birth as a (legal) man you will still be the mother. Mater semper certa est. No wishes to make pedigree law gender neutral. Tendency is more re-biologising
- Good thing: no need for hormonal or surgical treatment
- Good thing 2: no court procedure necessary anymore
- The law will be evaluated after five years
So, two or three important good changes, and lots of lost opportunities in this proposal. Where good thing 3 may be that the expert opinion may not be a diagnosis. But how will this go if the applicant later goes on to medical procedures? Will it then be taken as a (psycho) medical diagnosis? So you must be gender dysphoric to get help?
Government gave in on the easy part: the world moves to outlaw coerced medical treatment (actually already for some time). Lately by UN Special Rappporteur Juan Méndez who now moves required and coerced medical interventions for trans people and infant genital mutilation as with intersex children explicitly into the Convention against Torture (absolute, never relative, always enforceable human rights law).
Yogyakarta Principle 18 is about this issue: medical maltreatment, unnecessary medical interventions. The Yogyakarta Principles on human rights regarding sex, gender and sexuality, that Dutch government says to wholly support.
Principle 3 however is about recognition before the law. Apart from making change easier than before, government still requires trans people to see an expert in effing gender dysphoria. who must check if we feel to belong to The Other Sex. We are never the experts on us. The trans movement has not been consulted on the issue of the expert, the medical experts have.
It is a long way to Tipperary. And an even longer one to gender justice.
Finally Dutch government is showing to take gender recognition legislation serious by publishing the Legal Gender Recognition Bill as soon as possible after ministerial treatment in the Council of Ministers. And also by acknowledging most of the changes trans organisations advised. However Dutch government is up to now absolutely not willing to fully depathologise and set an example and take their preferred role of human rights example back. Continue reading