Legal aspects of transsexualism

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Transsexual people are those who establish a permanent identity with the gender opposite to their biological sex. As most legal jurisdictions have at least some recognition of the two traditional genders at the exclusion of other categories, this raises many legal issues and aspects of transsexualism. Most of these issues tend to be located in what is generally considered family law, especially the issue of marriage, but also things such as the ability of a transgendered person to benefit from a partner's insurance or social security.

The degree of legal recognition provided to transsexualism varies widely throughout the world. Many countries now extend legal recognition to sex reassignment by permitting a change of gender on the birth certificate. Many transsexual people have their bodies permanently changed by surgical means or semi-permanently changed by hormonal means (see Sex reassignment therapy). In many countries, some of these modifications are required for legal recognition. In a few, the legal aspects are directly tied to health care; i.e. the same bodies or doctors decide whether a person can go ahead, and the subsequent processes automatically incorporate both matters.

The amount to which non-transsexual transgender people can benefit from the legal recognition given to transsexual people varies. In some countries, an explicit medical diagnosis of transsexualism is (at least formally) necessary. In others, a diagnosis of gender identity disorder, or simply the fact that one has established a different gender role, can be sufficient for some or all of the legal recognition available.

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