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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 5 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 36
Landmark gender recognition law in Denmark
Section One
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Landmark gender recognition law in Denmark

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Denmark's landmark gender recognition law came into effect on September 1, allowing the country's Transgender residents historic new freedoms.

Said to be the first such law in Europe, and probably in the entire world, the measure allows Danes complete self-determination in gender identity. All someone needs to do is fill out forms for a new social security number, birth certificate, passport, and driver's license to match their chosen gender.

There are no longer any requirements for medical interventions, including psychiatric diagnosis, hormone therapy, or surgery.

Margrethe Vestager, Denmark's Minister for Economics, promised the new law 'will make life easier and more dignified for the individual, for example when you are asked for ID in shops.'

There are still some restrictions and waiting periods, however, and Trans activists said the law was far from perfect.

The group Transgender Europe (TGEU) said they were 'concerned' about the waiting period of six months, as well as the minimum age requirement of 18 years.

'[T]his imposed delay in the procedure prevents trans people from changing their documents quickly when necessary, for example when applying for a job, travelling internationally or enrolling in education,' a spokesperson for TGEU said.

Danish lawmakers said the waiting period was introduced to prevent people from making hasty decisions they might later regret.

TGEU said this concern may perpetuate the stereotype that Trans people are 'confused' about their gender, instead of encouraging them to change their documents quickly so that they can 'participate fully and freely in all aspects of life.'

According to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), there are no medical or legal reasons to insist on limiting gender transition to people 18 and older.

'As trans people come out at an increasingly young age, it is crucial for the social recognition and acceptance of their identities, as well as for their self-esteem and personal development, that they are not excluded from legal recognition and, as a consequence, from education and employment opportunities,' TGEU said, referring to WPATH's finding.

'TGEU encourages the Danish government to closely monitor the implementation of the law and to remove all provisions that delay quick access to legal gender recognition.'

Some non-gender conforming and gender fluid Danes also criticized the lack of a 'third gender' option, forcing Danes to choose whether they are male or female.

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