The European Commission is set to map out how EU states recognise genders as part of a wider effort to advance the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people.
Speaking at an event in Brussels on Tuesday (26 February), a senior commission official said the move will be presented at the end of March, in a report to the European Parliament.
“For the first time ever we will have a new category, where we will map the situation in the member states,” said Irena Moozova, equality director at the European Commission.
Also known as the binary gender recognition procedure without medical requirement, the category seeks to help people who do not identify with the biological definition of male or female.
Once mapped, the commission may then issue specific recommendations for the member states to ease people’s choices on how they see themselves.
ILGA-Europe, a Brussels-based NGO, said people should have the free will to choose their identifies without having to resort to invasive surgeries.
Micah Grzywnowicz, ILGA-Europe board co-chair, said some laws in Europe need reform when it comes to legal gender recognition.
“We are talking about forced sterilisation, that is still present in [some] legislation, when people want to access gender recognition,” she said, speaking alongside Moozova.
Sweden had a sterilisation requirement up until 2013, a practice described the United Nations as inhumane treatment. Sweden’s parliament last year adopted a new law allowing sterilised transgender people to now seek financial compensation.
Serbia, meanwhile, still requires people to get sterilised.
Things appear more progressive elsewhere. Scotland last year backed a new law to allow people to self-declare gender.
Spain had also prepared a draft law last year, since stalled, to recognise people who don’t see themselves as either male or female, also defined as non-binary. Germany has also opened up, allowing intersex people to legally identify themselves as such.
“You are the right person to decide who you are and how to live your life,” said Grzywnowicz, noting that minors should also be able to choose.
The commission’s announcement follows a European parliament resolution passed earlier this month on intersex people.
It also follows ILGA-Europe’s annual review, published on Tuesday, on the state of human rights of LGBTI people.
It looked at trends across 51 countries, noting among other things, the difficulties faced by LGBTI refugees and asylum-seekers.