Currently, anyone wishing to officially change their sex must first get themselves sterilised and undergo surgery to acquire the physical attributes of the opposite sex. The new Transgender Bill will mean that this will no longer be necessary.
Speaking on VRT Radio 1’s morning news and the Federal Secretary of State responsible for Equal Opportunities Elke Sleurs (Flemish nationalist) said that “This dispenses with the medical issue. It is against their human right to make people get sterilised of have body altering surgery”.
Ms Sleurs added that it is intrusive surgery that deters people from changing their gender identity.
"As a gynaecologist I can tell you that it is a big operation, if for example you have your uterus removed”.
The only condition that the new bill imposes on those wishing to change their sex is that they first get in touch with a transgender organisation that can inform them about the issues surrounding a sex change.
The Federal Justice Minister Koen Geens (Flemish Christian Democrat) told VRT News that they will be given a document to prove that they have been to a transgender organisation. The document can be used as proof when they visit the registration department at their local town hall to officially change their sex.
"We want to be certain that they have had a lengthy conversation about the consequences of their choice”, Mr Geens said.
Name change from 12 years old
Once the bill comes into force young people will be able to change their sex from the age of 16 (rather than 18 now). They will be allowed to change their first name from the age of 12.
Finally the Transgender Bill allows for those that have changed their sex to change it back again. However, they will have to gain the permission of the Family Court in order to do so. Mr Geens hopes that the new legislation will be in force by mid-2018.