Metro Weekly

Surgery Requirement for Gender Transition Struck Down by Court

Constitutional Court rules that a surgical requirement for transitioning is "at odds with" transgender people's fundamental rights.

Prage, Pride, LGBT, transgender
A Pride reveler in Prague, Czech Republic – Photo: Dominique Cappronnier, via Flickr – Creative Commons

The Czech Constitutional Court struck down a legal requirement for transgender people to undergo gender confirmation surgery before having their identities legally recognized.

Under the current law, transgender individuals have to undergo genital surgery and be sterilized by having the testes or ovaries removed, leaving trans people unable to reproduce, before officially completing their transition. 

The advocacy organization Human Rights Watch has argued for years that surgical and sterilization requirements are violations of fundamental human rights.

The surgical requirement may have originated in Sweden in the 1970s, based on the belief that transgender people were mentally ill and, therefore, unfit to care for a child.

The requirement for the removal of sex organs — which is irreversible — is intended to prevent transgender individuals from reproducing.

The surgical requirement was challenged by a man who was registered as female at birth and wished to change that assignment without undergoing surgery or sterilization. 

In Czech society, identity numbers given to people at birth and used in documents reveal a person’s sex, and the Czech language has different gendered suffixes for the surnames of males and females.

The 15-judge Constitutional Court found, in a 13-2 ruling, that the surgical requirement was “at odds with the fundamental right of trans people for the protection of their physical integrity in relation to their human dignity.”

It also directed the Czech Parliament to adopt a legislative change to the law by mid-2025.

Parliament must obey the court ruling, and government officials can no longer require individuals to undergo surgery.

Lawmakers, however, can set other requirements, such as a mandatory waiting period, requiring a mountain of forms to be completed, or requiring statements from medical professionals and others attesting that a person has transitioned before that person’s gender identity is officially changed on vital and identity documents.

A proposal to eliminate the surgical requirement for transition was previously introduced in parliament but failed to gain traction among members of the center-right ruling coalition.

“Congratulations to all transgender people in our country,” Czech Human Rights Commissioner Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková wrote on X. “Today is an important milestone on the road to greater dignity and protection of your rights. I am very happy.”

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