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posted Friday, June 18, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 25
French court orders Trans woman to have breast augmentation surgery
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French court orders Trans woman to have breast augmentation surgery

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A court in Nancy, France, has ruled that a Transgender woman must get breast augmentation surgery before she is legally recognized as a woman.

Delphine Ravise-Giard is a serving member of the French Air Force, and the National Coordinator of Trans Aide, an organization for Transgender people in France. She transitioned in 2007.

Ravise-Giard takes hormones, but told reporters for the British blog Pink News that she does not see her gender as being defined by whether or not she has had sex reassignment surgery.

The French military was happy to recognize her gender transition, and readily changed her name and gender status in all of their records. However, she also required official recognition from a French civil court to finalize her new legal status as a woman.

Her original application for a change of legal status was denied in August 2009, on the grounds that France requires sex reassignment surgery in order to complete gender transition.

The French Air Force was therefore ordered to reverse the changes it had made to her records. Accordingly, she became officially male again.

In March 2010, the French Ministry of Justice ruled that surgery is not a prerequisite for gender transition. This new ruling brought France into line with the European Commission of Human Rights position on recognition of Transgender individuals.

In his official statement, the French Justice Minister said that "gender re-assignment surgery should not be required as a matter of course" when the applicant can prove he or she is undergoing other treatments to change gender.

Ravise-Giard then returned to court, confident she would secure a change in legal status.

The Chief Prosecutor in Nancy had other ideas, however.

At the prosecutor's request, the Nancy court ruled that a person must have breasts to qualify as a woman, and that Ravise-Giard's were not of sufficient size to satisfy the legal requirements. She was therefore advised to get breast augmentation surgery.

"The request is ridiculous but this is what the state demands," she told Pink News.

"I am satisfied with the progress I have made through hormones but as far as the state is concerned, unless I take steps to augment what I have now through surgery, I am not being serious about my gender change. A friend of mine - who is perfectly well-endowed when it comes to breasts - is facing the same problem.

"Of course, if the state applied the same test to cis [non-Trans] women, it would have to redefine the gender of many French women. But of course, this would never happen," she continued.

"What size breasts are required for a change in civil status?" she asked.

"Will that breast size be established nationally by the Minister of Justice or will it be up to the personal tastes of individual attorneys?"

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