Dutch ID Cards To Become Gender Free – Could More Of Europe Follow?

Dutch ID cards will be gender-free within five years, as the Government seeks to end the “unnecessary” registration of gender.

And it is a move, the administration in the Netherlands is hoping could gain traction in Europe.

In a letter to parliament, Education minister, Ingrid van Engelshoven explains the move aims to remove obstacles that prevent transgender and intersex people from “fully participating in the society.”

Dutch ID will become genderless in five years, at a time when other changes will also come into force.

Meanwhile, some parts of the Netherlands already have made similar moves at a local level.

In both Amsterdam and Utrecht, you’ll find many forms have already removed questions about gender, where it is irrelevant.

The government job website ‘Werken voor Nederland’ (working for the Netherlands) has also scrapped the requirement for applicants to tick a gender box.

Passports will continue to carry the holder’s gender because of global aviation regulations.

Dutch ID cards will be gender-free within five years, as the Government seeks to end the “unnecessary” registration of gender.

And it is a move, the administration in the Netherlands is hoping could gain traction in Europe.

In a letter to parliament, Education minister, Ingrid van Engelshoven explains the move aims to remove obstacles that prevent transgender and intersex people from “fully participating in the society.”

Dutch ID will become genderless in five years, at a time when other changes will also come into force.

Meanwhile, some parts of the Netherlands already have made similar moves at a local level.

In both Amsterdam and Utrecht, you’ll find many forms have already removed questions about gender, where it is irrelevant.

The government job website ‘Werken voor Nederland’ (working for the Netherlands) has also scrapped the requirement for applicants to tick a gender box.

Passports will continue to carry the holder’s gender because of global aviation regulations.

They are also looking into the possibility of gender-neutral birth certificates.

Could More Of Europe Follow The Netherlands And Remove Gender From ID?

Elsewhere in Europe, Germany has already removed gender from its IDs, reports Trouw. But the Dutch move sits in contrast to Transgender rights around the world, which are in a global recession.

The right to change gender in Hungary was taken away from trans people this year.

Poland’s parliament is still considering a “Stop Pedophilia” law that seeks to criminalise those who teach sex education by falsely linking being LGBT with paedophilia. LGBT rights are also a key battleground in the country’s presidential election which ends this week. The incumbent, President Andrzej Duda, has promised to ban LGBT marriage if he is returned to power.

And in the latest anti-trans sentiment coming from the Conservative U.K. government, documents show plans to move away from making it easier to change your gender.

These moves have even lead the UN to warn countries, not to erode LGBT rights under the guise and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So though the Netherlands hope the moves could be replicated elsewhere – it bucks current trends.

But it is being welcomed across Europe by LGBT organisations as one that serves as a precedent, that countries can remove gender from passports and ID:

“This move from the Dutch Government is a great step forward in making the lives of people who find gender markers distressing or frustrating, easier,” Jamie Windust, U.K. non-binary activist tells me. 

“It’s a move that, as their Government have said, is to change an ‘unnecessary’ marker.”

But Windust also recognises, this is a move that may be difficult to replicate in other countries – particularly in the U.K.

EU-UK Border
EU, UK, Borders, Passport and European Union signs and inscription in London Stansted STN airport in … [+]
 
NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES

U.K. High Courts Denied Challenge For ‘X’ Passports Earlier This Year

“Although we are no longer in the EU, you’d think that something as easy, and cost-effective as this would be something the U.K., and other EU countries would just do as a matter of care for their trans citizens,” Windust adds.

But the U.K. High Courts denied a challenge by Christie Elan-Cane, a non-gendered campaigner, for a gender-neutral ‘X’ option on passports this year. 

The judgement also came in the wake of voter reform plans, requiring ID at polling stations, which Windust says could prevent trans people from being able to vote.

The U.K. government has long argued the estimated £2 million costs would be “prohibitively expensive” to implement. A cost the Dutch Government is mitigating by making the reform, at the same time as other changes to ID cards.

However, Elan-Cane detailed the hypocrisy of this, when it became clear the Brexit pledge to reintroduce blue passports would cost 240 times more than introducing an ‘X’ option.

“The issuance of ‘X’ passports would require nothing more than an uncontroversial policy change that the U.K. government fiercely opposes.

“If the’M’ or ‘F’ reference is not how the person presents, then that person is likely to encounter problems, whether that is problems at the airport or problems at the polling station,” Elan-Cane says.

The U.K. recognises “X” passports issued in other countries as valid travel documents.

And though the Court of Appeal denied Elan-Cane’s claims they said it could become unlawful if more widespread official recognition of “non-binary” identity continues, The Guardian reports.

Elan-Cane tells me they have applied for permission to appeal at the Supreme Court and if that is unsuccessful, hopes to make a fresh application to European Courts of Human Rights.