Romania found guilty in European Court of Human Rights for refusing to recognise trans men without surgery

European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against Romania for refusing to recognise the gender identity of two transgender men unless they had surgery.

On Tuesday (19 January) the ECHR found Romania guilty of violating article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which upholds the “right to respect for private and family life”.

The two men, identified as X and Y in court documents, are both Romanian nationals aged 44 and 38. Their cases date back to 2013 when authorities told them to “furnish proof that they had undergone gender reassignment surgery” in order to legally change their names and gender.

Both individuals had undergone top surgery and hormone therapy, and X had three medical certificates confirming that he suffered from a gender identity disorder, but local courts argued that a legal gender change would be “premature”.

Their applications were refused on the basis that they must have additional bottom surgery to be recognised as male – a difficult procedure in Romania, as many doctors won’t perform it without a court order.

“The domestic courts had presented the applicants, who did not wish to undergo gender reassignment surgery, with an impossible dilemma,” the ECHR ruling stated.

“Either they had to undergo the surgery against their better judgment – and thus forego full exercise of their right to respect for their physical integrity – or they had to forego recognition of their gender identity, which also came within the scope of the right to respect for private life.”

The ECHR argued that the men were put in a situation of being “vulnerable, anxious and humiliated”, which “doesn’t comply with the fair balance between the general interest and the personal interest of the persons in question”.

The Romanian state was ordered to pay a fine of €7,500 to each of the plaintiffs for “emotional distress”, as well €1,153 to compensate one of the men for the two surgeries he had.