A Dutch transgender bill makes legally changing your sex easier, but leaves out non-binary identities. Many are unhappy about how difficult it still is to switch to a neutral gender.
The new bill being discussed in Dutch parliament seeks to further emancipate transgender people by no longer requiring them to be evaluated by an expert in order to legally change their sex to male or female. Instead, they can decide for themselves, with a minimum of four weeks to consider this decision.
For non-binary people, whose gender does not solely align with either male or female, changing their sex appears much more cumbersome. “My partner is transgender and had very little difficulty changing his name and sex. No lawyer, judge, or high fees. As a non-binary person, you then fall by the wayside”, says non-binary person Lon van Dreumel.
Those who succeed in getting their sex legally changed to a neutral gender receive the designation X on their passport, instead of male or female.
For non-binary people, the lengthy process involves approaching a lawyer, explaining their situation, and together pleading their case to a judge, indicating why the X is important to them. If the court approves, they must consider their decision for at least three months before it becomes official.
Like many other non-binary people, Van Dreumel and others cited in this article ask to be referred to by the gender-neutral pronouns “they” and “them”, rather than the binary pronouns “he” or “she.”
Additionally, the process tends to be expensive. Van Dreumel says “it would cost me around €1200.” Because they went through a similar process last year trying to change their name to a gender-neutral one, which cost €800, they add that “this is a lot of money for me.”
As a result, many have delayed their requests until it becomes easier and less financially onerous. This is true for Van Dreumel, who also cites “the stress that it is now giving me” as a reason for waiting.
“Your identity isn’t recognized by the government”
In 2018, Leonne Zeegers was the first non-binary person in the Netherlands to change their sex to an X. Several people have since followed, one of whom is Anne Bakker, the founder of Facebook group Nonbinary (Dutch).
The Facebook group, now counting over 400 members, was created in August of 2020. At the time, Bakker was still figuring out their identity. But later that year, they got in contact with a lawyer which has led to Bakker currently waiting for their new passport.
Putting an X on someone’s passport stems from a 1993 law meant for newborn children whose sex is yet to be determined. There being no actual law for nonbinary people upsets Bakker, saying “it means your identity isn’t recognized by the government” and “real legislation would solve this issue and contribute to the emancipation and acceptance of non-binary people in society.”
Many believe it’s a missed opportunity not to have incorporated non-binary people into the current transgender bill. If it had been included, it would be signed into law by next year, Bakker says, “but now it will take an additional year longer.”
As Dutch parliament remains divided over the bill, proposed by politicians Sander Dekker and Ingrid van Engelshoven in May of 2021, discussion will continue soon. No date has been set as of yet.