Today, I was one of the speakers at a seminar about transgender issues at the Swedish Parliament. The seminar was organized by us in RFSL after a initiative from two Members of Parliament from the Swedish Conservative Party called Anna König-Jerlmyr och Anna Bergkvist. They have been engaged in this issue before and have taken part in seminars during Stockholm Pride as well as submitting a motion to the Parliament
We had put together a really good mix of people to give the attendees a broad overview of the legal issues for transgender people in general and transsexual and intersexual people in particular. The hard part of all this is that these should not be difficult political issues because the changes to current regulations that we demand seem very logical when all the facts and the actual consequences of current law becomes visible. However, my experience is that it takes some effort to move people over their own threshold in order to make them see that.
However, some of these things seem to be rooted deeply in some kind of public knowledge that usually are neither discussed nor questioned. Take the notion of establishing the biological sex of someone for instance. Most people think that is easy but the truth is that there are a large number of medical indicators of this and medical professionals can not single out one as more important than the other. People have different sets of genes, chromosomes and variations of the body that most of the time is neither known nor visible. That means that biological sex is not that bipolar as you might think. Having that in mind makes the notion of sex change come into new light and makes it even easier to understand that in many senses it isn’t not a sex change, merely a correction of the body since there are so many variations in reality.
The absolute worst part of all of this is that the proposal for a new law have moved from requiring sterilization to castration in order to get your new legal status as man/woman approved. So you might think, isn’t that something that you people want? Well, a lot of people do (but not all!) but more importantly; is it really consistent with human rights to require such a thing in law to allow an administrative change? The last time we did things like forced castration this was 50 years ago when race hygiene still was on the agenda…
Well, I started by giving an overview of LGBT and transgender issues. After that a psychiatrist called Ola Broström from the transgender clinic at Karolinska Hospital gave a talk about how the transsexual transition processes are handled. After that, Alex Grönkvist talked about castration from a medical and historical perspective followed by Jenny Ottosson from the Swedish Intersexual Organisation called INIS. She explained intersexuality and the terrible consequences the law proposal has for that group. We continued by having Conny Öhman, lawyer and member of the RFSL Federation Board, talking about the transgender group from a legal perspective. There are many laws with “interesting” consequences for the group. We ended by having a summary and discussion in the end.
I was very pleased with what we all accomplished and people in general seemed to think it was interesting. Hopefully we have inspired to some political action to make sure that the new law actually makes life simpler for a group of people that already have a difficult situation in life. We definitely should not have to fight against laws and regulations as well.
I just discovered that Member of Parliament Olof Lavesson (m) also has written about the seminar and his reflections that something needs to be done to change vital components of this law proposal.