Some trans people in Germany are demanding compensation for being forced to undergo invasive, unwanted surgeries in order to change their legal sex, an inhumane requirement that continues elsewhere in the world—including parts of the United States.
This group, backed by German advocacy group Bundesverband Trans* (BvT), are pushing their government to compensate every trans person who was coerced into sterilizing surgeries before proof of sterility was dropped as a requirement to change one’s legal sex in 2011, as Reuters reported earlier this week. They are also campaigning for a government apology and an acknowledgement of Germany’s history of state-sanctioned sterility and other forms of eugenics deployed against marginalized groups from the Nazi era to the present. As many as 10,000 Germans could be eligible for compensation, BvT estimates.
Many governments continue to require sterility from trans people hoping to legally transition, whether or not that’s something they want for themselves. Just last year, Japan’s Supreme Court upheld the country’s sterility requirement for trans people seeking to change their legal sex. These surgeries are invasive and not always wanted — some of them, particularly those available to trans women, also happen to be sterilizing — forcing many trans people to choose between their desire to legally transition and their physical autonomy. While the U.S. does not outright require proof of sterility from trans people hoping to legally transition, 16 states demand proof of genital surgery in order to change the gender marker on one’s birth certificate, according to the Movement Advancement Project, and nine states require proof of such procedures, a court order, or an amended birth certificate in order to update a driver’s license.
BvT’s demands are not unprecedented. In 2017, Sweden became the first country in the world to compensate trans people who were forced to undergo sterilization in order to change their legal sex, paying 225,000 kr (~$24,000) to approximately 800 people.
“They just could not conceive that a man could get pregnant or that a woman could make another woman pregnant,” an unnamed German trans woman told Reuters.
“Many of the victims [of forced sterilization] have already died,” said another. “I wonder how many of us will leave this world before they understand what was done to us in the name of law.”
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