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Case No 12304/2018 – Tunisia

Litigation Degree: First
Case No: 12304/2018
Issuing Court: Court of First Instances 
Judgment: Favorable, the request for legal gender recognition from female to male was granted
Judgment Date: 09/07/2018

In the Tunisian Court of First Instance, the plaintiff (Ryan) lodged a petition to modify his birth certificate by altering his name and gender following a gender transition from female to male. In accordance with established international standards, legislation, and legal precedents, the court concluded that there existed a legitimate and medical imperative for the applicant to undertake hormonal and surgical interventions. The court further sanctioned the alteration of the plaintiff’s name from Lena to Ryan, thereby affecting the modification of his gender on the birth certificate. Thus, accepting his legal gender recognition claim.

The plaintiff (Ryan), who was assigned female at birth in Sousse on 16/11/1983, initiated legal proceedings before the Court of First Instance on 13/10/2017, seeking to change his name from Lena to Ryan in order to align with his gender transition from female to male. Consequently, he intends to update all his official records accordingly. This case arises after a two-year hormonal treatment in Germany starting in November 2004, followed by surgical interventions beginning in 2006 to remove his breasts. The surgical procedures continued until 2009 when he underwent a hysterectomy after being diagnosed with gender identity disorder. Additionally, he underwent genetic testing, which revealed the presence of secondary male sex characteristics. 

The court, on 4/12/2017, made a decision to order the plaintiff to undergo a medical examination under the supervision of Razi Hospital in Manouba. The purpose of the examination is to verify the presence of gender identity disorder and to determine if surgical intervention is necessary for the plaintiff’s condition. In making its decision, the Court acknowledged that there is no specific legal provision regarding gender identity, and therefore relied on international law, which it considers to have supreme authority over all other laws. International law recognizes the importance of respecting the inviolability of human life. The Court also took into account the respect for freedoms enshrined in Tunisia’s Constitution. Moreover, the Court referred to the jurisprudence that allows for the permissibility of prohibited actions in cases of necessity. This jurisprudence was relied upon by the Tunisian Court of Appeal in its Judgment No. 10298 on 22/12/1993, which dealt with a similar matter involving the applicant (Sami) seeking a sex change. While the Court of Appeal did reject the aforementioned case, it did establish a precedent that such procedures are allowed in case of medical necessity which also aligns with Sharia law on these matters. The Court concluded that the applicant (Ryan) had already undergone medical examinations to establish the existence of a legitimate necessity.

The first examination, conducted on 24/4/2018, determined that the applicant does not suffer from a psychiatric disorder, but rather has a transgender condition. The second examination, conducted on 14/5/2018, confirmed that the transgender condition is equivalent to gender identity disorder. Therefore, based on the presence of gender identity disorder and the plaintiff’s male traits, it was concluded that the plaintiff belongs to the gender to which he wishes to transition. Consequently, the need for surgical and hormonal treatment was recognized. Due to the plaintiff’s inability to revert to his previous sexual organs and the risk of self-harm or suicide, it was deemed necessary and appropriate to approve the change of the plaintiff’s name and sex on the birth certificate.

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