Forced sterilisation of TS/TG and gender variant people in Sweden will be stopped

by Helen G // 18 February 2012, 09:47

Tags: enforced sterilisation, human rights, Sweden, trans rights

TG symbol on blue and yellow backgroundI wrote last month about the decision by the conservative Christian Democrat party government (along with the nationalist Sweden Democrat party) to retain a 1972 gender recognition law under which TS/TG and gender variant people who want to change their legal gender are required to be sterilised. The requirement was a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is enacted as law in Sweden.

There was an international outcry at the loss of the opportunity to bring the legislation up to date: in Sweden, the law is only reviewed every forty years. Advocacy groups and activists from around the world protested the decision and an online petition to the Swedish Prime Minister received over 77,000 signatures.

Now, via Ulrika Westerlund, President of RFSL (the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights), I learn that the campaign appears to have been successful, with the conservative party which was blocking the reform to remove the criteria apparently having changed its mind.

According to a statement in Debatt:

Everyone is equal here. From the Christian Democrats' side, we have been clear that the issue of sterilization at sex change - as well as other issues related to children - requires careful thought and analysis. Many transsexuals are met with hatred and fear, in violation of the principle of equal worth of all - the hallmark of Christian tradition of ideas and thus the Christian Democrats. Therefore, it is our opinion that the requirements for sterilization at sex change should be abolished, writes Christian Democratic party leadership.

This is very good news indeed for TS/TG and gender variant people in Sweden who wish to change their legal gender, although the underlying issue (the linking of people's legal identity to their medical status) remains unexamined.

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As a footnote, it should also be remembered that Sweden isn't the only member state of the European Union requiring TS/TG and gender variant people to undergo surgery before they can change their legal identity. Published work by the TGEU's TVT Project suggests at least eight other countries - Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain - where legal change of gender is contingent upon GRS/sterilisation or Gender Reassignment Therapy and we can only hope that these countries will follow Sweden's example. (Note: the TVT Project's list is not definitive and is subject to ongoing research and updates).

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Image: transgender symbol on blue and yellow background compiled from public domain images in Wikimedia Commons (here and here) by Helen

Comments From You

ephemeradical // Posted 19 February 2012 at 17:22

So glad this will be ended. Always found it odd that Sweden who had the earliest gender-change law was now less progressive than other countries.

What do you think about the coverage of the man who gave birth recently? What little I saw got pronouns right at least, but had various other fails, and at the end of the day, however non-oppressively done, it's a needless piece of non-news purely for sensationalism, of the kind that the Cis News tumblr shows up perfectly.

Helen G // Posted 19 February 2012 at 18:01

ephemeradical: I agree that the current media hysteria around the trans* man who recently gave birth is a non-story - after all, it's been nearly four years now since news broke around Thomas Beatie, so the general idea is hardly "news".

However, what does concern me is the apparent hunt by certain sections of the mass media for the man, presumably in search of salacious gossip in the hope of selling a few more copies. In the light of the Leveson inquiry this seems to me quite extraordinary, to say the least, and I can only hope that none of those subjected to the intense glare of the tabloid gaze are hurt by the intrusions into their private lives.

Frankly, if the mass media are going to cover TS/TG issues, I personally would prefer it if (a) they were more rigorous in their research and (b) focused on some of the more problematic issues that face us (such as the linking of trans* legal identities to our medical status, not to mention healthcare, transphobic violence, and so on).

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