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Karel van der Toorn, president of the UvA Executive Board, presented University of Amsterdam (UvA) alumnus Justus Eisfeld with a new degree certificate in New York on Wednesday, 6 April 2011. Eisfeld underwent gender transition after his graduation and subsequently asked the UvA for a new degree certificate bearing his new name.

Foto: Richard Koek

Van der Toorn was in New York as part of a working visit to the United States and took the opportunity to personally present the new degree certificate. Eisfeld has been living and working in New York since 2009. He is currently co-director of Global Action for Trans* Equality, an international transgender human rights organisation. Eisfeld is delighted with his new degree certificate: 'This case makes it clear that transgender people have a right to privacy, for example when we want to show a degree certificate to an employer.'

Eisfeld graduated from the UvA as a woman and then underwent a gender change. He asked the UvA to give him a new degree certificate with his new name on it. Though in favour of this request, the UvA felt prevented from doing so by the Dutch Higher Education Act. This Act states that each graduate may only be issued a degree certificate once. In late November, the Dutch Equal Treatment Commission ruled that the UvA had wrongly refused a new degree certificate to Eisfeld. Education Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt stated that the interpretation of the law by the ministry had been too strict and that educational institutions may henceforth issue a new degree certificate to people who have undergone gender transition.

Due to the ruling in this landmark case, all transgender people in the Netherlands are now entitled to a new degree certificate. 'Without my Women's Studies and Political Science degree from the University of Amsterdam,’ Eisfeld says, ‘I would never have realised that the law was on my side - and I am pleased that the UvA now stands firmly behind me.'

Note to editors

For more information please contact

- UvA Press Office, phone: +31-20 525 2695 or email: persvoorlichting@uva.nl

- Global Action for Trans* Equality, phone +1-646-341-1699 or email: jeisfeld@transactivists.org