Ministries Recommend Recognizing Transgender Israelis' Gender Regardless of Surgery

Committee calls for allowing transgender people to officially change gender, as well as adding 'other' as a gender option on official forms

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
People waving transgender pride flags as they march in Tel Aviv in July 2019.
People waving transgender pride flags as they march in Tel Aviv in July 2019. Credit: Meged Gozani
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

New regulations are expected to enable transgender people to change their gender in the Population Registry and on their official ID cards even if they have not undergone gender reassignment surgery. This is one of the recommendations made by a joint committee of the Justice and Social Services Ministries, and is included in the interim report of the committee for the advancement of Israel’s transgender population. The joint committee was headed by Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber and the deputy director general of the Social Affairs Ministry, Avi Motola.

The new policy would be implemented under the auspices of the Administrator General’s office in the Justice Ministry, which would be authorized to issue transgender individuals an administrative document confirming the gender change regardless of whether they have undergone gender reassignment surgery – which would them enable them to change their gender on other official documents.

Bibi gets immunity – just not the kind he really wants. LISTEN to Haaretz Weekly podcastCredit: Haaretz

This is a relatively simple procedure in which a person can submit a declaration authenticated by a lawyer or a professional opinion from someone providing treatments to the Administrator General’s Office – and receive the document.

The recommendations would allow those aged 15 to 18 to file such a request, too, with the agreement of both parents. In such cases, welfare authorities may also be required to submit an opinion on the matter.

Until now, a change of gender in the Interior Ministry’s Population Registry was allowed only for transgender people who turned to the Gender Reassignment Board, a public committee in the Health Ministry, in advance of gender reassignment surgery. Now the joint committee recommends allowing transgender people who are not interested in or unable to undergo such an operation to use the new procedures. In addition, the new regulations would update the Gender Reassignment Board’s guidelines to make things easier for those requesting such surgery – including not being required to appear before the full committee, which can be embarrassing or humiliating for some of them.

Alongside the new regulations, government ministries have begun preparing to implement as different decision: On government forms, alongside the “Male or Female” choice, the possibility of choosing “Other” will be added. According to the recommendations, this question will be deleted from all forms where it is not essential. This change will be made only on forms whose phrasing is not set by law or regulations – so the authority to make this change is granted to the ministries themselves.

The committee for the advancement of transgender people in Israel was established in October by a decision of Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn and Labor and Social Services Minister Itzik Shmuli. The committee, which included representatives of the Justice, Social Services and Health ministries, held three sessions in which it heard representatives of the transgender organizations and other professionals, after which the committee formulated its report.

The committee also gave its support to a step now being considered by President Reuven Rivlin and Nissenkorn of granting pardons and erasing criminal records for transgender individuals who were convicted of various crimes because they were sex workers.

Other recommendations include assigning social workers to help the transgender community all over Israel, and for the first time within Arab communities. Today, the some 30 professionals working on the matter are concentrated mostly in the large cities. The number of social workers in such positions is also expected to grow. Another recommendation is for government ministries to appoint officials with the responsibility of coordinating the connection of every ministry with the transgender community – and to become the public address for questions on matters concerning the community. At the same time, the committee called to formulate a model for providing incentives to encourage the recruitment of transgender employees for the civil service and public sector jobs.

Motola called the committee’s recommendations “a revolution in how the country treats the transgender community. Implementing the committee’s recommendations will lead to solutions to the major challenges facing the transgender community in Israel, starting with the Population Registry through to employment and representation,” he added.

The interim report was submitted on Sunday and within a few weeks the preparation of the final report will be completed. An official on the committee told Haaretz that a large part of the recommendations are already being put into effect.

Another official said that it is doubtful whether it will be possible to advance now, or in the future, recommendations that require changes in legislation because of the opposition of the Haredi parties to such change.

Nissenkorn said the transgender community “has experienced discrimination and violence on a daily basis, just because they have chosen to be who they are. I want to thank the committee for its important activities and I plan on studying the conclusions in-depth and examining how it is possible to implement them in the best possible way.”

Shmuli said this is a transformative moment for the transgender community which has experienced such harsh exclusion and discrimination and through a brave and ground-breaking step we can change the way all of Israeli society treats it. “We will never accept a situation in which a person is discriminated against because of their identity and this step is a big step on the road to more equal society,” he said.

Elisha Alexander, the co-director of the Ma’avarim nonprofit for the Israeli transgender community, said: “The establishment of the committee and its recommendations are preliminary and welcome steps.” He said Ma’avarim hopes other ministries will follow Nissenkorn and Shmuli’s lead and the committee produced professional and in-depth work along with a coalition of transgender organizations – and did not go over their heads.

“We hope the committee’s work will not end here, but the proposed corrections will be the first sign on the road to correcting the continued injustice and exclusion the transgender community has suffered. We continue to call for the establishment of a national plan for the advancement of the transgender community,” said Alexander.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage