Full report

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 Introduction
1.1 Why this study?
Many transgender people living in the European Union (EU) today experience direct and
indirect discrimination based on their gender identity. This discrimination exists in the
labour market, in access to health and social services, in schools and universities (FRA,
2014; FRA, 2019). It prevents the full and equal social and economic participati on of
transgender people and impedes their enjoyment of their rights. In addition,
transgender people may face day-to-day transphobia, harassment and abuse. The
gender identity of trans individuals is not always reflected in their legal and
administrative documents, nor respected by the wider public.
The needs and status of tran sgender individuals are often considered within the wider
remit of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI)24 rights. The
acronym is a unifying one, but trans individuals also represent a distinct group, with a
unique set of challenges related to the prejudice they face.
The European Commission is committed to tackling discrimination and promoting
equality for transgender people. In December 2015, the Commission released the ‘List
of Act ions by the Commission to advance LGBTI equality’25. This outlined a range of
policy activities in the period 2016-2019 to advance non-discrimination, tackle hate
speech/hate crime and promote LGBTI equal ity in education, health, employment, free
movement, asylum and other areas.
As part of the list of actions, the European Commission made a public commitment t o
study elements of gender recognition legislation (or la ck of) that affect transgender
people's position on the labour market and other areas.
This study represents the fulfilment of this commitment. It was commissioned and
supervised by the European Commission’s department responsible for justice, consumer
rights and gender equality (DG Justice and Consumers).
1.2 What this study is about
1.2.1 Areas of focus
The research focused on the position and experiences of trans people in education,
employment and later life, as well as their interactions with Legal Gender Recognition
(LGR) procedures and their experiences of coming out. It also considered the impact of
discrimination that trans individuals can face throughout their lifetime.
Focusing on these areas, t his study aims to provide an overview of the situation of
transgender people in the EU and to identify whether there is a positive correlation
between inclusive policies allowing for legal gender recognition (LGR) and the well-being
of transgender people.
LGR is the procedure through which an individual can change their name and gender
marker in of ficial registers and documentation. As of 2019, 23 EU Member States had
established clear legislation to allow individuals to go through LGR26. The conditions for
the procedure vary widely between countries and may encompass a range of medical,
judicial, civil and/or administrative requiremen ts. In 2014, Denmark became the first
EU Member State to permit an individual to legally determine their own gender on t he
24 LGBTI is an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex. It can
be expanded to LGBTQI (to include queer), LGBTQIA (to include queer and asexual) and LGBTQI+,
depending on the context and audience. See key abbreviations for more information.
25 Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/lgbti-actionlist-dg-just_en.pdf
26 The remaining five countries (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania) do not have any
such legislation, although courts have recognised some LGR applications on a case-by-case basis.

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