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New law makes it easier to officially change gender

Jan 3, 2018
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Anyone who wants to change their gender on the national register can now simply request it at their town hall. As of this week, they will no longer need a report from a doctor or psychiatrist or to undergo any invasive medical procedures.

Under the new regulations, people who want to register a change of gender will be given a three-month period of reflection after they request it. After that time, they can begin the administrative procedure to change their birth certificate. They will then receive a new identity card with a new registration number.

“It is really positive that people can now decide for themselves which gender is stated on their identity card,” Jeroen Borghs of Cavaria, which represents Flanders’ gay, lesbian and transgender community, told VRT.

The procedure for officially changing a first name has also been simplified and can be done via the federal government’s justice department. Children older than 12 can change their first name with permission from their parents or legal guardians. From the age of 16, minors are allowed to officially change their gender, but they will require a report from a psychiatrist confirming that they are in a fit state to make the decision, as well as their parents’ permission.

Borghs would like to see the new regulations taken further, allowing 16- and 17-year-olds the right to change their registered gender without a psychiatrist’s report, and for people to be allowed to make the change more than once. Anyone wishing to make further changes must currently apply via the courts. “That shows a lack of understanding of gender fluidity,” he said. “Not everybody always feels 100% a man or a woman, and people should have the right to be able to change their gender.”

Photo: Belga/Jonas Hamers

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