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Updated November 10th, 2021 at 20:18 IST

Sweden introduces new bill to allow legal gender change from age 12

The Swedish Ministry for Social Affairs has introduced a new bill that will allow legal gender change in the national population register from the age of 12.

Sweden
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The Swedish Ministry for Social Affairs has introduced a new bill that will allow legal gender change in the national population register from the age of 12. According to the new bill, only their guardian's consent will be required for legal gender change, and no examination or contact from healthcare authorities will be needed, Sputnik reported. The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Rights (RFSL), a non-profit organisation founded in 1950, has hailed the current version of the bill as a major step forward for transgender people's rights. 

National broadcaster SVT reported, citing social affairs minister Lena Hallengren of the Social Democratic Party, "It's important for the individual to be able to live in the gender and the identity you have. When talking about changing gender identity in the population register, it deserves to be different from having an intervention on one's genitals."

The Swedish government has long attempted to modernise the country's gender affiliation law, but the legal counsel harshly criticised the previous iteration of the bill in 2018. The government wanted to lower the age limit for surgery to 15 years old – without the consent of a guardian or parent. In the previous draft, it was proposed that children as young as 12 years old be allowed to change their legal gender with their guardian's consent. Starting at the age of 15, no consent would have been required.

The minister speculated that it is difficult to predict whether gender change applications will increase once the bill is implemented. The age limit for gender-correcting medical treatment will remain at 18 years. Surgery will not, however, require a permit from the National Board of Health and Welfare. Instead, local doctors will conduct the necessary tests. Hallengren emphasised the importance of communication and rapport between the patient and the medical team.

The number of girls seeking a sex change has increased

In 2008, 28 girls aged 10-19 received care for gender dysphoria, according to the National Board of Health and Welfare. In 2017, a decade later, wholly 536 girls in the same age group were enrolled. Numerous reports from doctors and parents testify that a large number regret their intervention and, in some cases, even chose to end their lives due to it. Sweden Democrat MP Angelica Lundberg wrote in her suggestion to instead raise the age threshold to 25. 

Meanwhile, Sweden is seen as having some of the most liberal LGBT laws globally, with polls consistently indicating an overwhelming majority of Swedes (well over 90 percent) supporting LGBT rights and same-sex marriage. In 1944, same-sex sexual activity became legal, and in 1972, the age of consent was raised to the same level as heterosexual activity. Sweden was also the first country in the world to declassify transvestism as an illness in 1972, allowing transgender people to change their legal gender following sex reassignment surgery. In 2013, legislation was passed that allowed for legal gender changes without hormone replacement therapy or sex reassignment surgery.

(With inputs from agencies)

Image: AP

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Published November 10th, 2021 at 20:18 IST

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