The Swedish government has proposed allowing children as young as 12 years of age to change their legal gender without a medical examination or approval. A bill states that only the guardian’s consent will be required.
The bill, which was published for consultation by the Ministry of Social Affairs on Tuesday, reportedly contains two laws – one that changes current procedures for changing the legal medical gender in the national population register and another on gender-correcting medical treatment and surgery.
At present, a doctor’s statement is required to change the legal gender at the Swedish Tax Agency, which can be done from the age of 18. The government has long tried to modernize the country’s gender equality law.
“It is important for the individual to be able to live in the gender and identity you have. When you talk about changing gender identity in the population register, it deserves to be different than having an intervention on your genitals,” says Minister of Social Affairs Lena Hallengren. The Social Democratic Party tells SVT.
While the age limit for gender-correcting medical treatment will continue to be 18 years, applicants will not need a permit from the National Board of Health and Welfare to have the operation. Instead, the necessary tests will be performed by local doctors.
Hallengren noted that it was difficult to predict whether the number of gender reassignment applications will increase if the bill is implemented, and also added that talks about the process between an individual and healthcare professionals will continue to be important.
An earlier iteration of the 2018 bill was heavily criticized by the Swedish Law Council. Among other things, it proposed lowering the age limit for surgery to 15 years, without the need for the guardian’s consent. It would also have allowed 15-year-olds to change legal gender without consent.
The bill has been called a major boost for trans rights by the Swedish Association for Rights for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender People, Queer and Intersex (RFSL). However, the Sweden Democrats’ Member of Parliament Angelica Lundberg had it suggested last year to instead raise the age limit to 25 years and warned that a large number of young people who change biological sex later regret their intervention.