Annex 5: Human Rights Standards

AuthorDirectorate-General for Justice and Consumers (European Commission), ICF
Legal gender recognition in the EU: the journeys of trans people towards full equality
June 2020
1 Review of LGR human rights standards
1.1 Analysis of human rights standards on LGR procedures
Legal gender recognition (LGR) is the process(es) by which individuals request the
changing of the first name and/or gender marker in their administrative records in order
that official registers and documents - including identity documents, birth or civil status
certificates - match their gender (usually as female or male, with few countries allowing
for a non-binary marker).
As of 2019, each of the 28 EU Member States had established legal procedures to allow
for the LGR of transgender individuals or had permitted individuals to be recognised as
their gender. However, the requirements set out in national laws vary widely across the
EU. Legal practices for recognition of gender tend to be a combination of compl ex legal
and medical requirements, with the border between the two often blurred
(Hammarberg, 2019).
In order to understand the differences between Member States and to classify countries
according to similar characteristi cs in t heir LGR procedures, those requirements mu st
first be l ocated in the context of t he wider human rights framework ap plicable to LGR
before examining the human rights standards specific to LGR.
1.1.1 International human rights context
The rights related to LGR derive from a wider human rights context, which gave t he
legal grounds to develop LGR-specific human rights standards. The wid er human rights
context encompasses the following binding standards:
Right to dignity;
Right to non-discrimination;
Right to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment;
Right to recognition;
Right to privacy and family life;
Right to enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health;
Right of the child to preserve their identity.
Together, they cover various facets related to LGR procedures, forming a strong human
rights framework of binding and non-binding standards. They provide the foundation for
established legally binding LGR standards under i nternational law, as well as standards
being developed under international law, which remain soft law (for now). These human
rights are further detailed below.
Right to human dignity
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) provides that every
human being is ‘equal in dignity’.
The principle of equality of dignity comprises ‘the value or worth of each individual as a
human being’. The standard derives fro m the idea of the right to a ‘dignified existence’
(Grant, 2007).
The right to dignity in the context of LGR for transgender individuals has been
particularly at stake in relation to the right to determine their gender identity and to
bodily and mental integrity. This is reflected under the Yogyakarta Principles on the
application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender

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