On Tuesday evening, ten parties spoke about the deletion of the mandatory expert statement and the abandonment of the age criterion from the Transgender Act of 2014. At around 11:30 pm, Speaker of the House Vera Bergkamp decided that the other parties would speak on Wednesday. It was actually planned that Franc Weerwind would answer the House by then, but that has been shelved.
It will not be a bad thing for the cabinet, now that the VVD and CDA have changed their position. The May 2021 proposal, which has been discussed in recent days, removes the expert statement that everyone aged 16 and older needs to be able to change gender in writing. This will be replaced by a reflection period of a minimum of four and a maximum of twelve weeks. It will also be possible to change gender in the birth certificate between the ages of 12 and 16, although this requires a request to the court.
In a June 2019 debate about an evaluation of the Transgender Act, both the VVD and CDA thought that the expert statement could be deleted. Doctors and psychologists themselves believed that their statement had little added value. The bill submitted by Rutte III was partly based on this. It seemed like it could pass as a hammer blow, but in the past year it became the subject of often fierce social debate.
This will have been one of the reasons for VVD and CDA to reconsider their opinion, although the VVD in particular remains vague about this. MP Ulysse Ellian was only prepared to speak to the press at the last minute on Tuesday, saying that he mainly had many questions for the cabinet. In the debate, he emphasized that the bill does not only omit the expert statement, but also the condition that someone must be properly informed.
Critical basic attitude
In his own words, his ‘critical attitude’ was all the more remarkable, because the bill comes from former VVD minister Sander Dekker. There were also voices in the liberal constituency in support of the change. The chairman of the related youth movement JOVD called for ‘unnecessary bureaucracy’ to be removed.
CDA MP Raymond Knops agreed that a party member had said three years ago that the expert statement could lapse, but also reminded that this measure would have to be accompanied by other guarantees. He believes that it should not be possible, especially for young children, to proceed with gender reassignment without discussion.
Several MPs emphasized in the debate that they have been bombarded from all sides with e-mails from society. The only way out seems to be a compromise. The contours of this did become apparent in the debate: between 12 and 18 gender reassignment at the registry office, with a conversation in which the consequences of the legal change are pointed out insistently. The question is whether that conversation can be conducted by an official. Administrative gender change after the age of 18 would then be possible without an expert statement. It amounts to a curtailment of the current legislative proposal, but an extension of current practice.