Dutch court rules in favour in adult’s case for a “gender-neutral” birth certificate

Dutch court rules in favour in adult’s case for a “gender-neutral” birth certificate

In the eyes of the law, only men and women exist. However, a court in Limburg has now ruled in favour of a gender-neutral option for an adult residing in Roermond. The adult in question will receive a new birth certificate stating, “sex could not be determined”.

Gender-neutral in the Netherlands

Recently, Roermond resident Leonne brought a case to the court in Limburg. Leonne was born intersex, with both male and female attributes, in 1961, and whilst the sex could therefore not be determined, was registered as a boy.

During puberty, Leonne did not feel male and underwent medical procedures to become a woman. Leonne’s sex was officially changed to “female” in 2001. After some time came the realisation that Leonne felt neither like a woman or man.

In the Netherlands, it has been possible since 1993 to postpone the registration of the sex of a child born with both male and female sexual characteristics for three months. If, after these three months, the sex of the child still cannot be determined, they can be registered as “sex could not be determined”.

Whilst children can be registered under the category of “sex undetermined” it is not possible for one to have this registration applied retroactively. The court in Limburg has, however, made this possible for Leonne.

Time to recognise a third gender

In 2007, a similar case was dismissed by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. Now, after social and legal developments, such as gender-neutral toilets and announcements, the court in Limburg has ruled that it is time that a third gender is recognised.

According to the court, it is a violation of privacy, right of self-determination and personal autonomy if someone is not able to register themselves as gender-neutral. In order to allow for this third gender option, legislation needs to be amended. Countries such as Australia, Nepal and India already offer this option.

There are an estimated 80.000 intersex people in the Netherlands, according to The Netherlands Institute for Social Research. It is now up to the Dutch government and legislators to take action in regards to the legislation.

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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