donderdag 17 maart 2022

New Transgender Act is a major violation of the rights of women and girls

With the new Transgender Act, the distinction between men and women will be abolished and men who consider themselves women will soon have access to women’s changing rooms and prisons without gender adjustment.

Peter Vasterman en Renate van der Zee

De Volkskrant 15 februari 2022

Dutch version

In their response (O&D, 8 February) to the column by Martin Sommer (Opinie, 5 February), the three representatives of COC and Transgender Netwerk Nederland, Brand Berghouwer, Astrid Oosenbrug and Philip Tijsma, slalom like Olympic descenders past almost all controversies that the new Transgender law delivers. This law makes it possible to change from man to woman or vice versa from the age of 16 with a simple signature on the town hall, and perhaps soon also in X, non-binary.

There used to be strict requirements such as operations, but since 2014 a medical statement of ‘gender dysphoria’ is sufficient: a condition in which someone suffers from the discrepancy between one’s own gender identity and his or her sex. That condition has now also expired, the only thing that matters in the new law is the ‘experienced gender identity’: whether someone ‘feels’ to be really a man or woman inside.

Although the three authors mention the concept of gender identity once, they do not explain that it is a highly personal feeling that cannot or may not be challenged any further by anyone. It also remains unmentioned that according to the gender identity theory that feeling is completely separate from the male or female body in which that feeling is located.

Nor do they say that introducing a ‘feeling’ as the basis for a legal category results in abolishing the distinction between men and women. De facto this means the end of any physical space that is now accessible only to women or men.

It’s not just about separate toilets, but also about changing rooms, prisons, shelters for abused women and of course sports. Nowhere in their response does it appear that these advocacy groups of the trans movement have considered the fact that this new law constitutes a significant violation of the rights of women and girls. We find that staggering.

Nor do they mention anywhere that it is estimated that only about 20 percent of trans women have surgery and that the vast majority therefore retain male genitalia. And that it will indeed become easy for inmates who were born as male but now feel ‘female’ to demand transfer to a women’s prison.

In their plea for the new law, they argue that the current medical statement is a considerable limitation of the right of self-determination. And oh well: “This isn’t about an operation, so it’s not that drastic. It’s just ‘about the paper change from ‘v’ to ‘m’ or vice versa.” That is also the position of the former minister Sander Dekker, who submitted the law: the statement can lapse because it “only establishes that someone has stated that they are convinced that they belong to the opposite sex.” And: “that it is not possible to determine whether a ‘lasting belief’ is really permanent.”

It seems that the former Minister of Legal Protection has not properly studied the consequences of his amendment to the law. After all, if it is impossible to determine whether this belief of belonging to the opposite sex is permanent, what does that mean for the diagnosis of children and young people with gender dysphoria? Are children from the age of 12 treated with puberty inhibitors, hormones and surgery (from the age of 16) without it being established whether they have gender dysphoria? With often irreversible consequences based on an uncontrollable ‘feeling’?

As was also stated in the manifesto of the trans activists, who demonstrated against the gender concern of the VUmc on Sunday 6 February, the aim of TNN and COC and other trans organizations is indeed to put the expertise of the practitioners completely aside and to leave the decision about a treatment entirely with the patient, who may no longer be called a patient. Transition is then a choice, not a treatment for a condition.

It is highly questionable whether trans care should take this turn, especially in view of the sharp increase in the number of teenage girls – from a few dozen a decade ago to more than a thousand now – who register at gender clinics in recent years, resulting in long waiting lists.

Will they receive the best care if the right to self-determination replaces the diagnosis? The new transgender law provides an important impulse towards self-diagnosis. Which practitioner can refuse treatment to a teenage girl if she is already a man under the law? These are issues that Berghouwer, Oosenbrug and Tijsma ski around very smoothly.