I wouldn’t have believed it possible, but, according to activists, transsexuals in France often must undergo sterilization surgery to legally change their civil status. Though the French Department of Justice has acknowledged a lack of law in this area and suggested the requirement is unnecessary, representatives of the French trans advocacy group Acthé say that many courts still demand it.

Le Monde writes that a 2010 Council of Europe resolution called on member states to allow trans people to obtain documents of their chosen gender without requiring medical procedures. But it’s still a parlous situation for trans people all over Europe, says Thomas Hammarberg, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe:

…Provisions exist, but they require unacceptable conditions, such as “forced divorce” or “sterilization.” Pursuant to these provisions, only transgender single or divorced people who have undergone an operation and have become permanently infertile have the right to change their civil status. This ultimately means that the state requires medical treatment for legal purposes, a requirement which is clearly against the principles of human rights and human dignity.

Existrans (rhymes with “existence” in French), an umbrella group for activist associations, is marching tomorrow in Paris to protest sterilization requirements.

* Translations Google’s and mine.