Denmark: Forced sterilisation dropped for legal gender recognition

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Trans people in Denmark will no longer be forced to be sterilised in order to legally change their gender.

Today the Danish parliament voted to scrap a law that required people to undergo gender reassignment surgery before they were eligible to be recognised as their preferred gender.

From September 1, the process will be overhauled, and over-18s will be able to legally change gender after a six month ‘reflection period’, with no surgical procedure required.

In a statement to NDTV, Interior Minister Margrethe Vestager said: “Today we have dropped the requirement of sterilisation when transgendered people need a new personal identification number as part of a legal sex change.

“It will make life easier and more dignified for the individual, for example when you are asked for ID in shops.

The government added it was part of an international trend towards “easing the conditions for legal sex change(s).”

It follows a similar decision in Sweden in January, when a law which made forced sterilisation compulsory for the state to recognise their gender identity was struck.

Last week the World Health Organisation has urged for an end to the forced sterilisation of transgender and intersex people around the globe.

A statement from the WHO said: “In some countries (…) transgender and intersex persons continue to be sterilised without their full, free and informed consent.

“According to international and regional human rights bodies and some constitutional courts, and as reflected in recent legal changes in several countries, these sterilisation requirements run counter to respect for bodily integrity, self-determination and human dignity, and can cause and perpetuate discrimination against transgender and intersex persons.”

In the UK, the Gender Recognition Act requires applicants to have transitioned two years before a legal change of gender is recognised.

There is no technical requirement for sterilisation or reassignment surgery, but it is accepted as part of the supporting evidence.