Culture & Society Czech Republic News

No official gender change without surgery, Czech court rules


Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech Constitutional Court ruled that a sterilisation-inducing surgery will still be necessary for official gender reassignment.

The Czech Republic’s top court rejected earlier this week a complainant’s claim to repeal passages of the Civil Code that would allow transgender people to officially change their gender without undergoing an operation.

Public debate required for “major social change”

Constitutional judge Milada Tomková noted that the change would have paved the way for the existence and legal recognition of “a so-called third sex”, a major paradigm shift that needs to be part of a wider political debate and public discussion, she said.

“If the Constitutional Court granted this proposal […] it would lead to a substantial relaxation of the rules for gender reassignment from male to female and female to men,” Tomková added.

The verdict dashed the hopes of the trans-community, the Czech News Agency reports, citing local activists who argue that the current laws constitute a violation of the right of physical and mental integrity, the right not to be subjected to ill-treatment and the right to privacy.

“It is a scandalous human rights violation that we do not encounter almost anywhere else in Europe,” reacted Lenka Králová from the Trans*parent association. “It stems from a completely obsolete premise that trans people want mostly surgical changes to their genitals.”

“Life-altering medical intervention”

According to the Trans*parent organisation, the Czech Republic is one of the last European countries to require the complete removal of sexual glands – which causes sterility – for transgender people to get their gender reassignment approved for official and personal identification documents.

“Trans people are constantly revealing their most intimate life and health problem to complete strangers” for lack of adequate official recognition, Králová argued.

Local and international rights groups have long pushed for a change in the legislation, highlighting that “transgender persons in the Czech Republic may be forced to accept to undergo a medical sterilisation, a serious life-altering medical intervention, with risks of side effects and complications, and which is not medically necessary, in order to have their gender identity recognised.”

Under current Czech law, any individual “wishing to be gender-reassigned must undergo gender reassignment surgery”.

The operation, open for people aged 18 or more, “requires a positive opinion from a Ministry of Health expert committee and, if the patient does not have full legal capacity, the approval of a court.”

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.