Interest in sex change growing among young people in Czechia

Tobiáš (22)

According to sexologists, interest in sex change among young people in Czechia is on the rise. While in 2013 a special commission at the Ministry of Health approved 47 applications for gender transition, last year it was 195.

Tobiáš, now 22, began to realise that he was uncomfortable in his own body when he was 14.

Petr Weiss | Photo: Šárka Ševčíková,  Czech Radio

"I acted like a boy, I looked like one, I felt like one. I first told my friend, who was my roommate at the time. When I first got hormones, I was incredibly happy. When I woke up after surgery, it was the same thing. Life is so much better."

According to sexologists, the number of young people who do not identify with the sex they were born with has increased significantly in the last decade.

But the process from sensing they want a change to actually getting there takes several years in Czechia. A request is followed by lengthy examinations by a sexologist, psychiatrist, endocrinologist, as well as a gynecologist or urologist. A patient can only apply for gender reassignment surgery after at least 12 months of hormone therapy and living in a new gender role, says Petr Weiss from the Institute of Sexology at the General University Hospital in Prague.

"They need to make sure that the decision is the right one –that is important for them as well as for their physician. During this “testing period” some people find that gender reassignment is not the right thing for them," explains Weiss.

The process of changing gender identity in Czechia is a long-term one in order to avoid making a wrong decision. As a result, the vast majority of transgender people in this country are happy with the change. This is not always the case in other countries. In the United States, for example, up to 20 percent of patients request a return to their original sex. In Czechia re-transition as it is called is not possible.

What is evident is that the number of young people requesting a sex change in this country has been growing. Petr Weiss says this is not because there are more of them, but because there in now a greater openness, greater acceptance by the society.

"The number of prevalent transsexuals in the population is probably stable. There is no reason to think that the number of homosexuals, transsexuals or other sexual minorities in the population has radically changed.  It's only the attitude towards these minorities, the tolerance, empathy and awareness of the population that is changing," Weiss says.

Authors: Daniela Lazarová , Andrea Skalická
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