FROM ARKANSAS TO PRAGUE
Do you ever think to yourself, “Wow, the U.S. is really progressive, compared to the Czech Republic!” Probably not, but it is possible that you were distracted by other things - such as a police officer mistaking their gun for a taser - so you may not have noticed a bill passed on April 6th which even the Republican governor of Arkansas called a ‘vast government overreach.’
On April 6th the law to ban gender-affirming treatments, such as puberty blockers, was passed in Arkansas. The state governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed this bill, but even after his acting on the pleas of people ranging from young trans* people to groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the bill was overridden. (The Guardian) Hutchinson explained that he vetoed the bill because, as the Washington Post reported, he sees it as a ‘vast government overreach’ as well as because it ‘creates new standards of legislative interference with physicians and parents as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters concerning our youths’. He did not forget to mention that he is pro-life, but I suppose we can all imagine what reaction he got from his Republican colleagues after vetoing this, therefore he had to redeem himself a little. According to the BBC, a minimum of 16 states are considering laws similar to this.
Now that we’ve looked at the situation in the U.S., let’s take a look at how it compares with the Czech Republic. Czech legislature does not explicitly mention the procedure of providing underage trans* patients with hormonal therapy, therefore it is up to each medical professional to decide and demand parental consent. Before that, one must visit a clinical psychologist who has to confirm whether the individual is ‘really’ transgender. After that, one is allowed to change their name to a neutral one. If the person decides to undergo a transition operation (for this they must be 18) they must first meet with a committee of the ministry of health which assesses whether they can proceed. This is more of a formality but it does not make the process any easier, especially since the committee only meets about 10 times a year. Then they can undergo the operation, and only then will they be able to change their legal documents. If they are married/in a registered partnership they must divorce to do so. In case you would like to find out more about the process you can check out the organization Trans*Parent which not only raises awareness on the issues of non-cis people but also organizes support groups and offers free psychological, social and legal counselling.
Sterilization was deemed a violation of human rights by the European Court of Human Rights in 2017, but sadly many countries like Finland, Slovakia, Latvia, and Romania (TGEU) did not execute any changes in this matter. On the other hand, Sweden has offered compensation of 225 000 SEK (about 570 000 CZK) to people who were forced to undergo sterilization. (Reuters) In 1994 Tsepo Bollwinkel was sterilized and as he said to Reuters, back then he felt grateful for the opportunity because it was important for him to get legal recognition. Now his goal is to make the German government apologize to all of the people who were sterilized and remind everyone of the German history of sterilization during Nazi Germany, where a minimum of 400 000 people were sterilized. (DW) Bollwinkel is not interested in monetary compensation, “But in Germany like other European societies, recognition has to come in the shape of euros to be considered real,” he says.
But to end on a bit more positive note, Prague Pride has recently published an interview about a government strategy on how to improve the situation of LGBTQ+ people in the Czech Republic. A part of this strategy is getting rid of required sterilization and divorce for the legal change in documents. If things go well, we could see the changes related to this strategy in the year 2026, but we are left with the obvious question - is that not too late?
Written by Malgorzata
The Guardian.“Arkansas is first state to ban gender-affirming treatments for trans youth.”
Popat, S.“Transgender youth treatment banned by Arkansas.” BBC.
The Washington Post. “Opinion: Why I vetoed ma party’s bill restricting healthcare for transgender youth.”
TGEU.org. “Trans rights Europe & central Asia map.”
Anarte, E. “Transgender Germans demand compensation for sterilization.” Reuters.
Lüpke-Schwarz, M. “Remembering the victims of Nazi eugenics.” DW.
Toman, H. “Postavení LGBT+ lidí v Česku by mohla změnit nová vládní strategie. Jak? Zeptali jsme se právničky.” Prague Pride.