Much of the focus of the LGBT community seems to be on the G. Maybe that’s just how it seems to me because of the circles I move in, and that I’m a gay man, so I, like anyone, am naturally more likely to notice what is most immediately relevant to me first. As such, much of the news I monitor around the LGBT community relates to marriage equality and anti-discrimination laws that affect homosexuals and bisexuals.
The struggles trans people face on a day to day basis, while perhaps in some ways similar to what cis-gendered non-heterosexuals experience, are nonetheless unique. So, let’s take a look at trans rights around the world.
Many of the same countries which have marriage equality also grant trans people the right to fully and legally change their name and gender based on their new gender identity, though laws vary on whether or not they must have undergone sex reassignment surgery and the decision may be made on a case-by-case basis by a judge.
Argentina may in fact be one of the most progressive countries in the world regarding this issue, as the law there allows people over 18 years old to change their gender based on their own written declaration, making it the first country to introduce a policy that didn’t depend on surgery or any outside ruling, but solely on the individual’s own self-identity.
The situation in the United States on the other hand is much more complex, as each state makes its own laws on the matter. In five states (Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Ohio) it is not possible to alter ones sex on a birth certificate, even after surgery, and more than half the states in the union do not even have laws in place to protect trans people from discrimination in the workplace, for example.
Shockingly, there are also still countries in Europe which require trans people to undergo sterilisation before they can apply to legally change their gender. Sweden, while it was the very first country in the world to grant its citizens this right in 1972, still required sterilisation until as recently as 2013. Norway, Denmark, Belgium, France, Italy and Greece for example, still require sterilisation.
While it may be easy to assume that the rights of trans people is progressing at much the same pace as those same rights for cis-gendered non-heterosexuals, the reality is that this is not the case.