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Transgender people no longer required to undergo sterilization in France

Rights groups welcome legislation as 'a sign of clear progress,' but argue that more should be done to streamline procedures for legally changing genders

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Transgender people in France can now legally change their gender without undergoing sterilization, under legislation that was passed this week. As the Thomson Reuters Foundation reports, the move was welcomed by LGBT rights groups in Europe, where several countries have passed similar laws in recent years, though advocates say France should do more to streamline the process for legally changing genders.

Twenty-two European countries currently require transgender people to undergo sterilization when legally changing genders, according to Transgender Europe, a Berlin-based human rights organization. In recent years, MaltaIreland, and Norway have allowed transgender people to change their gender by simply notifying authorities, and without any medical or government intervention. Laws vary from state to state in the US, though many require sex reassignment surgery to change the sex on one's birth certificate. UN health and human rights organizations have condemned forced sterilization as a violation of fundamental rights.

"This is a sign of clear progress."

Under the French law, transgender people will no longer have to provide proof of medical treatment when changing their gender; emancipated minors will be allowed to officially change their gender, as well. ILGA-Europe, a Brussels-based network of LGBT groups, welcomed France's law as a sign of progress on Wednesday.

"This is a sign of clear progress — another European country has dispensed with the shameful practice of sterilization and the intrusion that accompanied medicalization," said Evelyne Paradis, executive director of ILGA-Europe, in a statement this week.

But ILGA-Europe criticized the amendment for not going far enough. The organization noted that transgender people will still have to go before a judge to have their gender legally changed, and argued that the process should be opened to all transgender minors.