Sweden has taken a long-overdue step to end the requirement that transgender people who wish to update their sex identification on legal documents undergo sex reassignment surgeries that require them to sacrifice their ability to have children. This is thanks to a court judgment that now applies to the whole country circumventing the sterilization law, which is set to be rewritten and removed from the books by July 1, 2013. Sixteen other countries in the European Union require transgender citizens to undergo the surgery, which many trans people do not want or require.
Last year, liberal and moderate members of Sweden’s Parliament were prepared to change the law, but were initially blocked by conservative political groups led by the Christian Democrat Party. Nova Colliander, a trans woman opposed to the sterilization requirements, expresses the pain of sacrificing her reproductive ability and her bitterness that it’s taken so long to change the policy [edited via Google Translate]:
COLLIANDER: It was an assault, a rape. The state gave an ultimatum I had to accept. The alternative was to die, which I felt so strongly. I do not know how many wills I wrote as a child… I am terribly disappointed that it took so terribly long.
Being transgender is considered embarrassing and unimportant in society. They would rather hide us, it’s hard to even talk about us. Therefore, it has taken time… It’s lucky that I can feel joy for others. Otherwise I would have been driven to madness by the bitterness.
Sweden has an infamous history of eugenic sterilization that took place between 1934 and 1976, with over 21,000 forcibly sterilized and another 6,000 coerced into a “voluntary” sterilization. A governmental inquiry into the misdeeds of the past ended in 2000 that paid out damages to the victims. Sex identity changes remained the last form of forced sterilization in the nation, but it remains unclear if the government will consider a new set of reparations.