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Legal battle leads to stronger transgender rights

B. v. France  | 1992

Legal battle leads to stronger transgender rights

She finds herself daily in a situation which, taken as a whole, is not compatible with the respect due to her private life

Judgment of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, 25 March 1992

Background

Miss B was registered as a man at birth, but adopted female behavior from a very young age. Distressed by her feelings of identity, she suffered from attacks of depression. After she was hospitalised, doctors prescribed feminising hormone therapy. This led to a development of breasts and a feminisation of her appearance - after which she dressed as a woman. Miss B also underwent treatment to remove male genital organs, and replace them with female ones.

Miss B developed a relationship with a man, and wanted to marry him. However, she was unable to do so because the authorities refused to register her as a woman. That refusal also left her unable to cross borders, undergo identity checks, apply for jobs or carry out many transactions of daily life where proof of identity is necessary, without disclosing the discrepancy between her legal sex and her apparent sex.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

Miss B found herself in a daily situation which was not compatible with respect for her private life. This violated her basic rights. 

Follow-up

In 1992 the Court of Cassation established a precedent, ruling that transgender having undergone medical and surgical treatment to make their physical appearance match their social identity should have their civil status reflect their new gender.

The legal regime applicable to these requests was modified by a law of November 2016, to ensure greater compliance with the case law of the Strasbourg court.