Dutch Cabinet apologizes for coercing transgender people into sterilization
The Dutch Cabinet issued a formal apology for the former law which only permitted transgender people to adjust the gender registration on their birth certificates if they also underwent an irreversible sterilization procedure. The law was in place for 20 years starting in 1985.
People who went through the gender transitioning process during that time will be allowed to claim a five thousand euro payment from the Dutch State in compensation. It was a response to the Transgendercollectief, an organization which filed a case against the government over the law in 2019.
“The old law could give transgender people a hard, almost impossible choice. Adjustment of the gender registration was only possible after a physical transition and a definitive farewell to any childbearing wishes," wrote Sander Dekker, the Minister for Legal Protection.
Earlier this year, Willemijn van Kempen came forward as one of those who demanded an apology from the government for having to undergo sterilization. She was concerned that her suffering would be forgotten and that the mistakes of the past would not be addressed openly. "People need to know that this happened and should not have happened," she told newspaper AD. Attorneys involved referred to Sweden which offered 20 thousand euros for people affected by a similar policy there.
"We can no longer imagine such a violation of physical integrity today. It is important to face the suffering of transgender people and to offer recognition, compensation and apologies for it."
Ingrid van Engelshoven, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, noted that the old legislation had a massive impact on transgender people. She said that "the law turned out to be a symbol of social rejection for many, and dreams have been lost as a result of the irreversible sterilization. This has brought great suffering."
Still, the government said it thought that the law was only deemed in violation of European law as of the end of 2008. As such, it felt that any claim for legal damages already expired, and decided to fix the compensation amount.
Anyone who went through gender transition from July 1, 1985 through July 1, 2014 will qualify for the payout. The final details about the process for obtaining it will be published by the government next summer.