Sweden Moves to End Forced Sterilization of Transgender People

Love Georg Elfvelin and Ulrika Westerlund delivering a petition to representative of the Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt. Source: AllOut.org.

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Swedish trans people and LGBT activists have something to celebrate this week, as the country—one of 17 in the European Union that requires sterilization for people who wish to switch genders on legal documents—may soon repeal the requirement. As I reported previously, Sweden’s liberal and moderate members of parliament expressed desire to remove forced sterilization last month, only to be blocked by an opposing coalition of conservative political groups led by the Christian Democrat Party. Now, according to the Swedish paper The Local, the Christian Democrat Party appears to have reversed its stance, making way for the repeal.

On February 18, The Local reported that Christian Democrat leader Göran Hägglund and others in the party “outlined the party’s new position in that it now wants the law changed and the sex-change sterilization requirement removed.” Why the sudden change in opinion? When the Christian Democrats and others announced that they would not support repealing forced sterilization, the news sparked outrage on the internet and among advocacy groups, sending shockwaves through international media. One petition by AllOut.org received nearly 80,000 signatures. The public pressure seems to have achieved some success.

 

Still, it’s not clear exactly when the sterilization requirement will be repealed. According to Andre Banks, executive director of All Out, “[the repeal]’s going to happen, it’s just a question of whether the bureaucratic process takes two months, or four months, or six months, and activists in Sweden are going to keep the pressure on.” Once the law is officially reversed, trans people in Sweden will get to have their ID and legal documents changed to reflect their gender “without having to go through what is often a really embarrassing terrifying process,” Banks says.

Banks and other activists working on the All Out campaign hope that reversing forced sterilization in Sweden will send a signal to other European countries. By working closely with partners, he says, their goal is “to find moments where international solidarity can help tip the balance in favor of greater equality.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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