North Macedonia set to give trans people legal recognition without surgery requirement

Republic of Macedonia

The Republic of North Macedonia has taken a huge step for trans rights with a draft law that would make it significantly easier for transgender people to obtain legal recognition.

The new legislation, approved by the North Macedonian government on Tuesday (27 April), would amend the Law on Birth Registry to allow trans people to obtain legal recognition of their gender identity without scrutiny.

The wording submitted to the justice ministry represents the first time that North Macedonia has noted a distinction between sex characteristics and gender, according to Balkan Insight.

“Sex refers to the physical characteristics of the individual … Gender identity refers to the internal and individual feeling about gender of each individual person, which might not correspond with the sex determined at birth, including personal feelings about the body and the other manifestations of gender, including clothing, speech, manners,” the draft reads.

Previously the country’s laws required trans people undergo gender affirming surgery before their gender marker on ID documents could be changed.

North Macedonia has been promising to revoke this law since 2019, when a transgender man sued the government for infringing on his basic rights.

The European Court of Human Rights forced North Macedonia to pay the man €9,000 in compensation and ruled the law to be a violation of human rights.

“The court found that the existing legal framework has gaps and serious shortcomings that have put the transgender [man] in a situation of stress and uncertainty in the recognition of his gender identity,” said the NGO Coalition MARGINS, which represented the plaintiff.

“Following this decision, [North] Macedonia has an obligation to adopt a law that will enable transgender people a fast, transparent and accessible procedure for legal recognition of gender.”

If the latest amendments pass through parliament, the procedure for legal recognition of gender will no longer require proof that a person has undergone a surgical procedure, hormone therapies or any other psychiatric, psychological or medical treatments.

Crucially, the birth registry could be amended without notifying in documents that the person’s gender has been changed, keeping this information private and preventing trans people being outed against their will.