Czech court abolishes mandatory surgery requirement for legal gender change

In a landmark decision, the Constitutional Court ruled that mandating surgery and sterilization for official gender changes violates human dignity.


Written by ČTK Published on 07.05.2024 11:08:00 (updated on 07.05.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Transgender people in the Czech Republic will no longer be required to undergo gender reassignment surgery to legally change their gender after the Constitutional Court (ÚS) struck down that requirement Monday.

The court ruled that mandating surgery and sterilization for official gender changes violates human dignity. It declared the current regulations unconstitutional, but delayed enforcement until mid-2025 to give lawmakers time to adopt new legislation.

Judge Jaromír Jirsa wrote that while the existing rules may aim for legal certainty, "the legal requirements for surgical transformation of genital organs and the disabling of reproductive function directly conflict with the fundamental rights of transgender people.” He also mentioned that current laws “violate human dignity."

Giving hope to future people transitioning

A transgender man who sought to change his legal gender without surgery had petitioned the ÚS after being denied by lower courts. "[This is] a positive decision that could hopefully provide hope for those who are unsure whether they want sterilization or are unable or unwilling to undergo it," the petitioning man said in a statement, welcoming the ruling.

The man had already realized about a decade ago that he did not wish to be castrated and hoped that the situation might change. "In the meantime, Europe has seen more and more countries removing this condition," he said.

A change in consensus

The ÚS in Czechia has scrapped part of the Czech Civil Code that requires changing one’s gender to involve disabling reproductive function and transforming sexual organs. The court also got rid of a provision in health services law defining "sex change for transsexual patients as [involving] medical procedures aimed at surgically altering sex.”

Jirsa said the court aimed to "catalyze democratic debate" on an issue where politicians had long been inactive, giving them over a year to regulate gender changes "in a dignified and constitutionally consistent manner." Two of the 15 constitutional judges dissented.

According to the Justice Ministry, the government had in the past prepared a bill that would remove the need for gender-reassignment surgery, but Justice Minister Pavel Blažek said “there had been no political consensus as to whether and when it should be submitted for consideration by the authorities.”

Human Rights Commissioner Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková praised the decision on social media site X, calling it excellent news. "Congratulations to all transgender people in our country. Today is an important milestone on the road to greater dignity and protection of your rights. I am very happy,” she wrote.

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