The State Attorney's Office told the High Court last week that it no longer opposes allowing Israelis to officially change their sex, even without undergoing an operation.
The announcement was made in response to a motion filed by three women who were originally men, and The Aguda – The Israeli National LGBT Task Force. They demanded that the Ministry of Interior drop its demand that a person undergo a sex change operation in order for the state to change the sex designation in his ID card.
According to Haaretz, the matter was discussed in a meeting headed by Dina Zilber, the Deputy Attorney General, with the relevant representatives in the Ministries of Interior, Health and Justice.
The Health Ministry representatives said that “in the world,” there are generally accepted professional criteria for determining that a person has changed his sex, even without an operation.
It was decided to change the current regulations, and to have the Health Ministry's committee of experts, which currently approves sex change operations in Israel, to determine the criteria for changing sex registration without an operation. After the criteria are set, approval by the committee will suffice for approving the sex change in an individual person's ID.
The state claimed that by agreeing to let a committee decide on sex changes, it had made the legal motion superfluous. The plaintiffs, however, are not satisfied with the compromise and intend to fight to let people change their sex without committee approval.
The legal motion claims that in Portugal, Spain, Austria, Finland, the Zurich district of Switzerland, Sweden, Canada and New Zealand, a statement by a physician or social worker that confirms that the requester “identifies” with the opposite sex suffices for an official sex change.
Rabbi fights back
Rabbi Haim Navon of Modiin attacked the decision on Facebook and said that it is a huge social change. He noted that Jewish Halakha forbids sex change operations and that most decisors do not recognize them as changing a person's sex. However, he said – if a person undergoes a sex change operation and wants the state to recognize this, there is “internal logic” in his actions, but if a person does not undergo an operation, there is nothing to define him as having changed his sex.
Rabbi Navon added that it is not clear what the committee can check in order to decide that a person has changed his sex. “If anyone can define the concepts of man and woman according to his own wishes, then that means that these terms have no real meaning,” he explained. “And if so, why should it be important to a person if the state defines him this way or the other?
"It's as if a person who was born on the sixth month of the year demanded that the state let him define that month as 'January'," the rabbi elaborated. "If the state agrees to this demand, then the registration of dates in general will lose its meaning, since every date will signify whatever the person who registered it wanted it to signify. So why should a person demand a specific registration, if the result is the loss of meaning of all the dates? Unless that is exactly what he wants: to cause such a loss of meaning.”