The European Commission issued a statement that current anti-discriminatory EU legislation will protect all transgender against unequal treatment. The European Commission makes it clear in this statement that the ban on discrimination on the grounds of gender does not only apply to transgenders undergoing a sex change. On the basis of gender identity, it applies to all transgenders, even those who are not undergoing a sex change.
Transgenders are not mentioned explicitly in the guidelines of the EU, but the European Court of Justice stipulated as early as 1996 that the ban on discrimination on the basis of gender should also be applied to transsexuals. The European Commission, in a newly published report, now makes it clear that this principle should be interpreted in such a way that gender identity should also be perceived as grounds for non-discrimination.
Thus, the European Commission implicitly adopts the recommendation from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). Last year, the FRA issued a warning that protection against discrimination is limited to sex change, and that approximately half of the transgenders would therefore be left in the cold – namely those who are not interested in a sex change. Because of the high degree of discrimination of transgenders, the FRA advised to broaden the definition of existing European anti-discrimination guidelines, and to include gender identity as grounds for non-discrimination.
Transgender Europe (TGEU) welcomes this step, but points out that the European Commission's interpretation is not binding for EU member states. “TGEU therefore will continue to advocate that gender identity should be mentioned explicitly as non-discrimination grounds in gender legislation in both the EU and national governments, just as it is the case now when it comes to pregnancy and motherhood,” TGEU spokesperson Arja Voipo stated.