Sunday, February 26, 2012

Forced Sterilization

There has been a huge outcry from the trans-community over the last couple of months about Sweden requiring sterilization for trans-people before they have surgery (I wrote a blog post about it here). It turns out that Sweden is not the only European country to require sterilization for trans-people, 17 other European countries also require sterilization…
17 European Countries Force Transgender Sterilization (Map)
Mother Jones
By Nicole Pasulka
Feb. 16, 2012

People rightly flipped out across the internet last month over news that the Swedish parliament would not be repealing a barbaric law that forces sterilization on trans people seeking to change their gender on legal documents. While it's despicable that Swedish politicians are opposing the law change, much of the outrage, no doubt, occurred because people previously didn't realize that a forced sterilization law existed in Sweden.

Considering how shocking people find Sweden’s law, it's worth pointing out the country is 1 of 17 in Europe (shown in red below) that require trans people to have a surgical procedure that results in sterilization before legal gender change is made to their identification ID. The law is currently under review in Denmark, the Netherlands, and Portugal, and in Ireland a name change (which acknowledged gender change) was granted for one woman after a legal challenge that went to the high courts, but no laws exist on the matter.
Data source: European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights
It is unethical to require doctors to preform unnecessary surgery on a people and put their lives in danger just to satisfy societal transphobia, because some people are uncomfortable with the idea. The article goes on to say,
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights 2009 "Issue Paper on Human Rights and Gender Identity" (PDF) takes particular aim at surgical or sterilization requirements, saying they "ignore the fact that while such operations are often desired by transgender persons, this is not always the case." People don't always want surgery, and it's often impossible because of physical or economic impediments. The Issue Paper's conclusions are clear; these sterilization requirements are "putting the transgender person in a limbo without any apparent exit.”


  1. Sweden used to be a little country that played a big role in human rights. SRS/GRS were legal and practiced there before they were in most other countries that now have them, and Sweden was one of the first countries to decriminalize homosexuality.

    However, in a disturbing parallel with the US and some other European countries, right-wing groups are making their marks in politics. There, as here, much of the right wing is about xenophobia. Until recently, Sweden was one of the most homogenous countries in Europe; within the past two decades, Islam replaced Catholicism as the second-largest faith in that country. Xenophobes tend to see religious and racial minorities in the same way as they see LGBT people, especially in times of economic and social upheval. (Such minorities are seen as a "threat to our way of life".)

    I have written about Sweden's law here:

  2. Characterizing SRS as "forced sterilization" is disingenuous as best. SRS is how a person changes anatomical sex. Sterilization is a side effect which, for someone born transsexual, is of no real consequence.

  3. Except if you happen to be a trans-man since the majority of them do not have hysterectomy and they cannot afford bottom surgery.

  4. I understand about bottom surgery for men born transsexual. I hope that procedure is made better before too long, but we know it's not great now. But if you're going to get an oophorectomy, why not a hysterectomy too? Can't imagine why they'd want a uterus any more than I wanted a penis.