Right to Gender Recognition

Governments around the world issue identity documents (IDs) that list people’s gender. These IDs include birth certificates, passports, national identification cards, and driver’s licenses, among others. People are expected to present IDs in everyday life for a wide range of purposes, such as opening a bank account, renting a car, boarding an airplane, and voting. Longstanding human rights principles support the proposition that, if IDs contain gender markers, individuals have the right to obtain markers that match their gender identity—which I will refer to as the right to gender recognition. Some commentators argue that this right is radically new and ought to be rejected. To address this concern, my paper contends that the right to gender recognition is only new in a very limited regard: the right to gender recognition is a newly recognized aspect of preexisting rights.