Trans Laws and Constitutional Rulings in Belgium: The Ambiguous Relations between Sex and Gender

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Trans Laws and Constitutional Rulings in Belgium: The Ambiguous Relations between Sex and Gender


  • Petra Meier Department of Political Science, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Joz Motmans Transgender Infopunt, Ghent University Hospital, Belgium / Centre for Research on Culture and Gender, Ghent University, Belgium


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Abstract:  In this article we reflect upon the evolution from the Belgian trans law of 2007 to those of 2017 and beyond, giving adult citizens the possibility to have their self-determined gender legally recognised. The 2019 ruling of the Belgian Constitutional Court, condemning the Belgian State for being discriminatory against gender fluid and gender non-binary persons regarding their legal gender recognition, requires the Belgian government to either add a third legal option or to abolish gender registration altogether. We analyse the definitions of sex and gender that underlie the two trans laws of 2007 and 2017 and the Constitutional Court ruling of 2019 and then confront them with the experiences of trans people based on a national transgender survey (Motmans, Wyverkens, & Defreyne, 2017). The confrontation between legal texts and lived experiences clearly shows the promises and pitfalls states face when striving for gender recognition procedures.

Keywords:  Belgium; gender; law; recognition; sex; transgender

Published:   18 September 2020


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v8i3.2851


© Petra Meier, Joz Motmans. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.