Securing transgender rights

Securing transgender rights

Although the issues that lesbian, gay and bisexual people face are close to those faced by transgender people, there are distinct policy challenges related to gender identity. The priorities of the Intergroup include securing equal rights for transgender people.

The European Parliament first adopted a resolution on discriminations against transsexual people in 1989. The first formal opening of EU law to transgender issues occured in the European Court of Justice‘s 1996 judgment of the P. v. S. and Cornwall County Council case, where EU judges interpreted the law on equality between women and men to apply to cases of gender reassignment.

This has since then been incorporated into the Gender Recast Directive, which reads:

The Court of Justice has held that the scope of the principle of equal treatment for men and women cannot be confined to the prohibition of discrimination based on the fact that a person is of one or other sex. In view of its purpose and the nature of the rights which it seeks to safeguard, it also applies to discrimination arising from the gender reassignment of a person.

Gender Recast Directive (2006/54/EC), Recital 3.

In June 2010, the European Parliament adopted a landmark resolution (the ‘Figueiredo report’) calling for an inclusive EU gender equality strategy, specifically addressing issues linked to gender identity.

Why is this a priority?

Sexual orientation is clearly mentioned in EU texts, but gender identity isn’t yet. For instance, when the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union equips the EU to combat discrimination, it does so by mentioning ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘sex’. Although the scope of  ‘sexual orientation’ is clear, what ‘sex’ covers is more open to interpretation.

The Gender Recast Directive departs from the restrictive understanding of discrimination on grounds of ‘sex’ as strictly equality between women and men, and includes discrimination linked to undergoing gender reassignment. However, it does not go as far as addressing issues faced by transgender people who have not undergone, or are not planning to undergo, gender reassignment procedures.

Therefore the Intergroup makes it a priority to secure transgender rights, including legal recognition and access to healthcare.

What is the Intergroup doing?

The Intergroup has pushed for the inclusion of transgender people’s rights in the June 2010 Figueiredo report. As a result, the landmark resolution calls on the European Commission to design a gender equality strategy that specifically includes gender identity issues. In partnership with civil society groups, the Intergroup ensures that future gender equality initiatives from the European Commission as well as the European Institute for Gender Equality acknowledge and reinforce transgender people’s rights.

The Intergroup also monitors the reports tabled in the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, and seeks to include references to gender identity when relevant.

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