The European Court of Human Rights has ruled a law requiring trans people be permanently infertile before they undergo treatment is incompatible with human rights.
The judges in Strasbourg made the judgment after a transgender man, ‘YY’, in Turkey was told he would have to be sterile if he wished to undergo gender reassignment surgery in 2005.
Three years later, he turned to the ECHR saying his right to respect for privacy and a family life was violated by Turkey’s ‘absurd’ laws.
In 2013, the trans man presented his request for permission to undergo surgery to the local court, and this time he was given the green light.
And now a decade on after the initial request, the ECHR has ruled in unanimity that by barring YY from gender reassignment surgery Turkey had violated his right to respect for a private life.
The judges explicitly said such medical treatment is not necessary in a democratic society and is in breach of the Convention.
They also reiterated trans people have a right to establish one’s own gender as this is an ‘essential part of the right to self-determination.
The ruling only specifically relates to Turkey. Campaigners have noted the Court did not rule on the issue generally.
‘We are pleased that the court ruled out this absurd requirement for trans people in Turkey to get access to medical treatment that can significantly improve their quality of life. It is now up to Turkish lawmakers to swiftly change the civil code together with Turkish civil society,’ Richard Köhler, Transgender Europe’s senior policy officer said.
21 countries in Europe, including France, Italy and Denmark, require by law that trans people undergo sterilization before their gender identity is recognized.