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Trans and intersex issues: Challenges for EU law

The EP Intergroup on LGBT rights and the The Greens/EFA held a seminar on Trans and Intersex issues on 26 September 2012. Intersexuality refers to people whose biological sex cannot be classified as clearly male or female.

The aim of the seminar was to present a recent study requested by the European Commission on discrimination of trans and intersex people and to discuss its findings with one of the authors, MEPs, institutions and civil society.

The study

Transgender vector

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The study examines the legal treatment of discrimination against trans and intersex people on the grounds of sex, gender identity and gender expression in EU member states. As neither discrimination based on gender identity nor on gender expression are expressly prohibited in EU anti-discrimination law, the protection of gender and intersex people is not fully guaranteed at EU level. Nevertheless, according to the case-law of the European Court of Justice, discrimination against trans people can amount to discrimination on the ground of sex, in the case that these people intend to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment. Implementation of this case-law is however slow in the majority of the member states.

Reactions to the study

The study was warmly welcomed by the contributors of the panel. The majority of them called on the EU institutions to take action in order to protect trans and intersex people from discrimination and marginalisation. The representative of Transgender Europe reminded the audience that human rights apply to transgender people as well. Therefore, the EU should prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and expression. A similar wish was expressed by the representative of the Organisation Intersex International Germany.

Future of EU anti-discrimination law

MEPs from the Intergroup on LGBT rights said they were prepared to ask the Commission to launch a Roadmap on LGBT issues but complained about a lack of will on the side of the institution in the past. A Commission representative replied that the institution’s current priority is to monitor and assess the compliance of current national legislations with EU directives and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, rather than to prepare a roadmap.

For further information see also the Library briefings Transgender people in the EU: Social and legal issues and The LGBT toolkit

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