A court in Limburg has ruled that an adult who feels neither male or female can be issued a new birth certificate stating that they are of ‘no determined sex’.
The case was brought by a person born in 1961 who was registered as male by their parents because that was ‘easier for the child’. The plaintiff, who did not feel male, had that changed to ‘female’ in 2001.
Later the person went to court again to have ‘female’ removed and replaced by ‘not determined’. The Limburg family court in Roermond has now granted that request, paving the way for a formal change in legislation.
Since 1993, it has been possible to state on a birth certificate in the Netherlands that the sex of the baby cannot be determined, but until now, that could not be applied retroactively.
In 2007, the Dutch supreme court rejected a similar application from a person who wished to have a gender neutral birth certificate.
However, the Limburg court said that social and legal developments since then have cleared the way for a ‘third gender’ on birth documents. It pointed to, for example, the fact that Dutch railway firm NS has begun addressing travellers as ‘passengers’ rather than ‘ladies and gentlemen’, and by noting the rise in gender neutral toilets.
The court ruled that not being able to describe someone as ‘of undetermined gender’ conflicted with their right to a private life, self determination and autonomy. If the person concerned feels neither male nor female, they should be able to be registered as such, the court said in its judgement.
Broadcaster RTL carried an interview with the person who brought the case. ‘It is a revolutionary verdict,’ Leonne told the broadcaster.
‘The court has stuck its neck out and that is big news. I am very happy, not only for myself. I have spoken to thousands of transsexuals in my job as a psychotherapist and I did it for them, a little bit, as well.’
‘I am not Sylvester Stallone and I am not Pamela Anderson. I am exactly in the middle. I am a typical example of a pure hermaphrodite,’ Leonne told RTL.