On March 21st, the National Assembly of the Slovak Republic advanced the draft Bill No. 301/1995 Coll. on the birth number to the second reading. The adoption of this law would constitute a direct attack on transgender people in Slovakia and, ultimately, on their lives, as it would prevent them from undergoing a legal transition that has been legally permitted in Slovakia for 60 years.
The change in the law would require people seeking official gender reassignment (the term ‚sex‘ is used in the law) to undergo a genetic test to prove that the person’s sex has been incorrectly determined in the past.‘ This requirement is contrary to the latest recommendations of the World Health Organisation and the country’s international human rights obligations.
Every person has the right to self-determination and to live in accordance with their identity. It means that a person has the right to define how they feel regardless of the sex assigned to them at birth and also has the right to express their gender identity through their appearance or behavior. To make this right subject to a medical opinion is a violation of the human rights of transgender people and ignores the latest recommendations of the World Health Organisation.
According to the sponsors of the bill, changing the law would not prevent legal transition, but that is not true. Legal gender recognition in Slovakia is impossible without a change in the birth number. The purpose of gender recognition is precisely the change the gender marker in identification documents. Otherwise, a transgender person would be constantly exposed to involuntary social coming-out and the associated risks of bullying, discrimination, or violence.
A de-facto ban on legal gender recognition constitutes a violation of international human rights obligations that bind the Slovak Republic to protect the rights of every individual, including the right to private and family life, the right to self-determination, and other human rights.
Living with documents incorrectly reflecting one’s gender has enormous consequences for the mental health and well-being of transgender people and their loved ones. By making legal transition impossible, the Slovak Republic would be responsible for human rights violations of thousands of people, as well as for the deterioration of their health, with potentially fatal consequences.
We urge the Slovak parliament not to allow this to happen!
Join our call on the Slovak MPs to:
- reject the transphobic Bill No. 301/1995 Coll. on the ‚birth number‘ and call on the members of your party to vote against it as well;
- refrain from further legal attempts to worsen the human rights situation of LGBTI+ people in Slovakia, and call on the members of your party to refrain from it as well;
- work on the improvement of the legal status of LGBTI+ people in Slovakia and the protection of their human rights.
In both the debate and the explanatory memorandum to the proposal, the sponsors of the bill argue that the birth number must ‚reflect the actual biological sex and be a record of the actual biological identity‘ and that this requirement is merely an effort to bring the bill on the birth number in line with other national legislation. According to them, such a change in the law would not prevent legal transition.
None of what the sponsors argue is true, and their nonsensical arguments deny the conclusions of the WHO, the findings of the latest scientific research, European legislation, as well as the reality lived by transgender people. Under the guise of unifying legislation, this bill insidiously attacks transgender, non-binary, and intersex people.
Sex chromosomes on their own do not indicate biological sex
A person’s biological sex is determined by a number of factors which include sex chromosomes, hormones, hormonal receptors, the reproductive system (i.e., internal and external reproductive organs), and secondary sex characteristics.
Most people are born with XX or XY chromosomes and are assigned female or male sex at birth based on their external genitalia. However, according to scientific estimates, approximately 1.7 % of the world’s population is born intersex, which might mean that they are born with atypical chromosome combinations (XXY, X, etc.). Intersex people’s reproductive organs or other so-called sex characteristics might not correspond with the sex they’ve been assigned at birth. Intersex people are often unjustifiably subjected to so-called ‚gender-normalizing surgeries‘ in childhood, while some intersex people are unaware of being intersex.
Gender Identity and the Right to Self-determination
In our opinion, the use of the term ‚true biological identity‘ by the sponsors is problematic, since it suggests that there is some kind of a universal marker, a biological identity, that uniquely defines each individual. However, international human rights law does not recognize the concept of ‚true biological identity‘ instead, it recognizes and protects gender identity.
Thus, while a genetic test can determine the sex chromosomes’ combination, it cannot reliably determine the biological sex, let alone the real gender of the person subjected to the genetic test. Even if it were possible, requiring transgender people to undergo genetic testing is a flagrant violation of their human rights.