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Time for Change: Sweden to Fast Track Gender Realignment Amid High Demand

CC0 / / Woman inside man
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The Swedish government is poised to simplify the process of changing one's gender by scrapping the demand for a medical procedure in order for it to be legally recognized. Incidentally, the demand for gender changes is skyrocketing amid Sweden's young.

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Today, Swedish law requires transgender people to undergo medical procedures (and possibly intervention) before having their gender change legally recognized. The new law will hereby make this process less stressful and allow applicants to receive a new personal identity without medical verification.

Swedish Health Minister Gabriel Wikström said that the new legislation is designed to improve the health of transgender people, whom he claimed to generally have poorer physical and mental health compared with the general public, the Swedish tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet reported.

The importance of new and up-to-date legislation was stressed by Swedish Culture and Democracy Minister Alice Bah Kuhnke. The current gender identity act dates back to 1972, a time when Sweden was not anywhere near its current image of a shiny armor-clad champion of human rights. Back then, progressive and forward-thinking Sweden still required transgender people to accept sterilization to have their gender legally changed, which was only scrapped in 2013.

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The replacement laws, which still require some fine-tuning, are expected to be handled by parliament in the spring of 2018 and could thus come into force in the second half of the same year.

Incidentally, the number of Swedish adolescents experiencing the anxiety of being trapped in the wrong body is doubling each year, which children in the tender pre-school years already wishing to become the opposite sex.

"There's a 100 percent increase in numbers each year," Louise Frisén, child psychiatrist at the Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital in Stockholm, told Aftonbladet, referring to the number of adolescents demanding medical assessment prior to a possible gender change operation. Frisén also noted that the same situation was on the adult side of the society.

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While Cecilia Dhejne, chief of the gender identity investigation team at the Karolinska University Hospital hailed the increase as a token of a "greater openness" in Swedish society, she also indicated that healthcare resources were severely overstretched, as Sweden currently only has six clinics for people seeking gender investigation.

"The problem is that there is a long queue for both initiating a gender identity investigation and different treatment stages across the country. It is worrying." Cecilia Dhejne told Aftonbladet, citing waiting periods of up to a year at Lund Clinic, in southern Sweden.

According to Dhejne, this aggravated transgender people's mental health and jeopardized their lives. Health Minister Gabriel Wikström called deficiencies in care for transgender people "totally unacceptable."

In 2016, nearly 200 Swedish children and young people applied for a gender analysis, which usually precedes a sex change, as opposed to 100 in 2015 and 60 in 2014.


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