Transgender sterilisation requirements in Europe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

494 Downloads (Pure)


The possibility of individuals procreating post-transition has long stalked debates on transgender rights. In 1972, Sweden became the first European jurisdiction to formally acknowledge preferred gender. Under the original Swedish law, applicants for gender recognition were explicitly required to prove an incapacity to reproduce—either through natural infertility or through a positive act of sterilisation. Across the Council of Europe, 20 countries continue to enforce a sterilisation requirement. When considering reforms to their current gender recognition rules as recently as 2015, the Polish executive and the Finnish legislature both rejected proposals to remove mandatory infertility provisions. This article critiques the rationales for transgender sterilisation in Europe. It places transgender reproduction, and non-traditional procreation, in the wider context of European equality and family law. Adopting a highly inter-disciplinary framework, the article explores legal, social, medical, and moral arguments in favour of sterilisation, and exposes the weak intellectual and evidential basis for the current national laws. The article ultimately proposes a new departure for Europe’s attitude towards transgender parenting, and argues that sterilisation should not be a pre-condition for legal recognition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554–581
Number of pages28
JournalMedical Law Review
Issue number4
Early online date1 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

Structured keywords

  • LAW Centre for Health Law and Society
  • Health Science and Technology


  • Transgender
  • Legal Gender Recognition
  • Sterilisation
  • ECHR
  • Law

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Transgender sterilisation requirements in Europe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this