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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 14, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 33
Norwegian government proposes sweeping new Transgender law
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Norwegian government proposes sweeping new Transgender law

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The government of Norway has proposed new legislation that will allow Transgender residents to change their gender markers by simple self-declaration. Even children as young as seven will be covered by the measure, Reuters news service reports.

If passed, Norway will join only five other countries - Argentina, Colombia, Denmark, Ireland, and Malta - in recognizing self-declaration as the sole requirement for determining gender.

Previously, Norwegian residents had to undergo genital surgery and be sterilized before their legal documents would be changed to reflect their gender.

"Today's rules in this area are unacceptable and have been unchanged for almost 60 years," Health Minister Bent Hoie said in a statement.

"The proposal is historic in that it will no longer be the health service but the individual who decides if he or she has changed sex," he said.

Under the proposal, children as young as seven may declare their own gender, provided their parents approve. Sixteen-year-olds may declare their own gender even without parental approval. Only legal adults eighteen and over may opt for surgery, however.

Someone who declares their gender may later reverse their decision if they find they regret it.

Richard Köhler, of the Transgender Europe lobby group, welcomed the Norwegian proposal but said the "gold standard" was no formal lower limit, as in nations including Malta.

"Generally it is very good to allow very young transpersons to have their gender identity respected," he said, adding that many Trans children are bullied at school.

Amnesty International estimates up to 1.5 million residents of Europe are Transgender, but many countries still impose burdensome requirements on residents seeking to change the gender markers on their legal documents.

Sweden dropped its sterilization requirement in 2013, and as of 2014 the country allows people to change their gender on official identity papers without the need for hormone therapy or surgery although they still need to obtain a medical statement.

There are still some 20 European countries where surgery is a requirement, including much of Eastern Europe.

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