The Swedish government has proposed to allow children as young as 12 to change their legal gender without medical examination or approval. A draft legislation states that only guardian consent will be required.
The bill, published for consultation by the Ministry for Social Affairs on Tuesday, reportedly contains two laws – one modifying current procedures to change legal medical gender in the national population register and another on gender-corrective medical treatment and surgery.
At present, a doctor’s statement is required to change one’s legal gender at the Swedish Tax Agency, which can be done starting from the age of 18. The government has long been attempting to modernize the country’s gender affiliation law.
“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,” Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren of the Social Democratic Party told public broadcaster SVT.
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While the age threshold for gender-corrective medical treatment will continue to be 18 years, applicants will not need a permit from the National Board of Health and Welfare to get the surgery. Instead, the necessary tests will be run by local doctors.
Noting that it was difficult to predict whether the number of gender change applications will rise if the bill is implemented, Hallengren also added that conversations about the process between an individual and medical professionals will continue to be important.
A previous iteration of the bill in 2018 was harshly criticized by Sweden’s legal council. Among other things, it proposed lowering the age limit for surgery to 15 years, without the need for guardian consent. It would also have allowed 15-year olds to change their legal gender without consent.
The bill has been called a major boost for trans rights by the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Rights (RFSL). However, Sweden Democrat MP Angelica Lundberg had suggested last year to raise the age threshold to 25 instead, warning that a large number of young people who change their biological gender later regret their intervention.
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