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Georgia grants legal gender recognition to trans woman for first time

In a historic first, the conservative country of Georgia granted an appeal by a trans woman to change her gender on official documents to female

OC Media Shota Kincha
1 April 2021, 1.29pm
A protest outside the House of Justice, Tbilisi to demand legal gender recognition for transgender people, International Women’s Day, 2018
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Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media

This is an edited version of a story published on OC Media.

A transgender woman in Georgia has had her gender officially recognised in the first such case in the country’s history.

Georgian women’s rights group WISG reported on 31 March that the national civil registry (which falls under the country’s Justice Ministry) had accepted an appeal from the woman to have her gender on official documents changed from ‘male’ to ‘female’, after she underwent sex reassignment surgery.

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The woman’s birth certificate was also reissued by the authorities, the group said.

This historic first came several months after Tea Tsulukiani stepped down after eight years as justice minister. In 2018, human rights groups lambasted Tsulukiani after she claimed that NGOs were “pressuring” her to “register a person with a man’s [sex] organs as a woman”.

WISG noted that, despite this groundbreaking case, Georgia still lacks adequate legislation: trans people who do not wish to ungergo sex reassignment or other invasive medical procedures are still barred from having their gender recognised. The costs of surgery are not covered by the national health service either.

In 2017, two transgender men filed a suit against the country at the European Court of Human Rights, after authorities refused to change their gender status in official documents unless they underwent sex reassignment surgery.

That court case, which is being litigated by WISG and the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre, a London-based rights group, is still pending.

The issue of legal gender recognition has been repeatedly raised by queer and women’s rights groups in recent years.

In 2018, the Georgian Women’s Movement marked 8 March, International Women’s Day, with a protest outside the House of Justice in the capital, Tbilisi, to demand legal gender recognition for transgender people.

Rights advocates have warned that trans people are among the most vulnerable in the country’s queer community, frequently facing discrimination in the labour market due to their lack of legal gender recognition.

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