Transsexual graduate to get new Dutch diploma

A transsexual former student has won a battle to be granted a replacement graduation diploma with his new name and gender printed on it, the University of Amsterdam said Tuesday.

Justus Eisfeld will get a new diploma after Education Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt said a law barring universities from issuing replacement diplomas was "interpreted too strictly," university spokesman Paul Helbing said, adding the university is "very happy" to be able to issue the replacement diploma.

The minister's statement Tuesday came on the same day the Equal Opportunities Commission ruled the university's previous refusal to grant Eisfeld a new diploma amounted to discrimination.

The commission's chairwoman, Laurien Koster, rebuked the university, saying it "should have recognized that a gender change is a reason to replace a diploma."

Eisfeld was a woman when he graduated with a degree in political science in 2001, but has since undergone surgery to become a man. He lives in New York and could not immediately be reached for comment.

Helbing said the university tried to call Eisfeld to break the good news but could only leave a message on his voicemail.

He said the university offered in 2008 to give Eisfeld a document confirming he had graduated, but Eisfeld said it was not enough. "It is a question of principle for him," Helbing said.

Suzanna van Rossenberg of the Dutch Transgender Network called the decision "a step forward for all alumni of Amsterdam University."

She said it was not clear how many other graduates had run into the same problem.