Sweden keeps forced sterilization law for trans people

Apparently my go-to back-up country in case the U.S. goes to shit (oh, wait…) of lovely liberal idealism isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. In fact, their law around transgender individuals seeking to legally change their assigned gender is pretty fucking archaic — but what’s worst is that they recently decided to not change it:

Members of the Swedish government have announced they will not change the current law requesting transgender people to undergo sterilisation.

A majority of the Swedish Parliament is for an abolishment of the law but a small conservative party is putting a halt to the change. [...]

The 1972 law being kept in force states that a person wanting their gender reconsidered by the state has to be over 18 years old, unmarried and sterilised.

Transgender persons are also banned from storing sperm or eggs in a sperm/egg bank for future use.

So not only can you not be legally recognized as your gender without being sterilized, but you also have no right to have children — period. And the conservative party’s response to the obvious outrage? Here’s a gem of a quote to make you seethe:

Annika Eclund, LGBT spokesperson from Kristdemokraterna, the party responsible for the deadlock, has previously told Swedish radio she “doesn’t entirely understand why it would go against human rights”.

“If I as a female feel I am really a man and want to change gender, then it is pretty natural that as a father I would not be able to give birth,” she said.

Wow. I truly wonder what she did to receive her “LGBT spokesperson” status, because she is definitely knows what she’s talking about when it comes to trans issues. Obviously.

This is a straight-up affront to trans people in Sweden, and to the LGBTQ community and their allies everywhere. Do something about it. (PM Fredrik Reinfeldt’s office number is also +46 8 405 10 00.)

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/nichole/ Nichole Weberring

    The law is only minimally different than what most states of the USA require for document changes. The major effect post-op is for FTMs as they usually only require breast removal to qualify for document changes and changes of gender in most states.

    MTFs pretty much require total sterilization in most states because the process of surgery removes any ability there was to help make a child. Probably less than two years on testosterone blockers and estrogen sterilizes mtfs anyhow. I don’t know the sterilization effects on ftms although given the double birthings experienced by Thomas Beatie I would presume that the effect of testosterone is only there while it’s being used. Such is not the case with transwomen.

    I’m certain that things should change in Sweden, but tbh, there are things that should change here in the USA as well. Perhaps more agitation for trans causes and efforts here by cisgender women and men would be much more useful than any number of mailings and emailing to the Swedish parliament.

    • http://feministing.com/members/inallsincerity/ inallsincerity

      When are American feministing readers going to realize that they are not the only readers of or contributors to Feministing? As someone who is transgender and lives in Sweden and reads Feministing daily, it certainly does me more good to contact the Swedish parliament than any government officials in the U.S. And I would certainly appreciate the support of the global feminist community.

      • http://feministing.com/members/inallsincerity/ inallsincerity

        You don’t get to say “here in the US” when you are on the internet. The internet is not in the US. KTHXBAI

        • http://feministing.com/members/qubeley/ Jessica

          Seems like she struck a nerve lol

        • http://feministing.com/members/nichole/ Nichole Weberring

          Sorry, but when that’s where I am then that’s what I get to use.

          That you are in Sweden doesn’t change where I am. My words are on the internet. My body and mind aren’t. The internet is where my words are. I am never on the internet.

    • http://feministing.com/members/isabel/ Isabel

      There is *at least* one very significant difference between the current situation in Sweden and that in the US (disclaimer: I live in the UK, so my knowledge of the details of both systems is limited… There may well be more than one.)

      “Transgender persons are also banned from storing sperm or eggs in a sperm/egg bank for future use.”

      While you are broadly correct that hormone treatments leave many trans people effectively sterile (at least while they remain taking hormones – effects after stopping vary), it’s simply not fair to claim “[t]he law is only minimally different than what most states of the USA require”.

      This is a real issue in Sweden which deserves attention as a specific problem, rather than a vague offshoot of US politics. Surely it deserves to be addresses as an issue *in its own right* rather than for how it reflects upon systems in other nation-states?

      (As a side note, and sorry for the nit-pick, but referring to people as MTFs and FTMs is regarded as somewhat objectionable by many trans people. It’s certainly a common phrase, but does rather reduce people to their transition. Longer explanation here: http://phillyrage.org/more-information/trans-101/ (not mine, but borrowed)).

    • http://feministing.com/members/j7sue/ Jenny Barnes

      FTM and MTF as designators of transsexual men and women respectively is offensive, because it privileges the gender that these people were forcibly assigned to at birth. We are men or women first; transsexual men or transsexual women if a distinction needs to be drawn between cis men and cis women. In this case – if you read the article, it seems that Sweden is indulging in a bit of eugenics. Wouldn’t want those nasty trans people to breed.

  • http://feministing.com/members/naath/ naath

    Yes, this is an awful law. However I’m shocked to discover how shocked many people around the internet are by it, revealing the apparent extent to which Sweden is believed to be a paradise of some sort by many Americans – Sweden isn’t a paradise, it’s a country full of people some of whom are more progressive/liberal than others, a country with a lot of laws some of which are better than others – and in this case we see one which is very bad.

    Many jurisdictions have laws that require (or turn out to in-effect require) medical transition (including surgical and hormonal interventions that generally result in sterilisation) before allowing legal gender markers to be changed; although I think Sweden may be alone (among countries that recognise legal gender changes at all) in preventing the storage of sperm/eggs.

  • http://feministing.com/members/mondocane/ Lisa Kennedy

    I’m disgusted and mortified to read about this subject. It’s 2012 and it’s still perfectly legal for a western country to forcefully sterilize its citizens, perfectly innocent people. Horrendeous.

  • http://friederike.wunschik.net Friederike

    It seems the “Christian Democrats” (that’s all Kristdemokraterna means) are the same the world over. Squeamish about anything that might make them question their bigotry. Just goes to show that you can live in a fairly secular and enlightened society, and still have those who profess to hold up christian values make the laws.
    Why should governments or their institutions record your sex anyway? Get rid of the M/F box on all forms and passports! Then they won’t have to “acknowledge” or “recognize” anything.

  • fyoumudflaps

    This is a disgusting blemish on a country I’ve always revered. Although it must be said that the PM, most of the Parliament, and likely most of the Swedish public strongly disapprove of it. We can breathe a sigh of relief at that but it is still hideous for even managing to exist at all. I knew there was a reason I preferred Iceland as “paradise.”

  • http://feministing.com/members/metatarsals/ SC

    Please don’t abandon Sweden. I lived there and attended high school for a year as an exchange student when I was 16. They taught me that it was OK to “come out” as a pro-LGBT heterosexual, a science-loving nerd who wants to study evolution, a proud feminist, and an atheist. Sure, I would’ve ended up the same, but it might have taken a lot longer, given the terrible midwestern town I came from.

    As for Annika Eclund of the Kristdemokraterna: Krist = Christ. There were 11 parties represented in the government during my stay, back in 2004. I’m not sure of the number now, but, anyway, there are a lot of parties, a lot of views, some of which are ridiculous. This party is already identifying itself as Christian-oriented, and maybe Eclund wants to adhere to old-timey Abrahamic definitions of family. In any case, if an F to M trans wants to be the father figure, and refuses to carry a baby, in spite of a usable uterus (the organ which, in this country, the Republican party is very interested in), then that’s a perfectly understandable choice for that person.

    You’re absolutely right to call them out, though, because upholding (or passing) laws governing what we do with our fucking organs (pun intended) is always, always a bad thing.

    Just don’t give up on ye old Sverige, yet. It’s a fucking great place.