Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Eugenics is a nasty word, Sweden

It's been bubbling around the transgender community for some time, this anger. You see, as more of us finally come to terms with who and what we are, many of us are discovering that we are citizens of a country that will not let us live normal lives. In fact, we may be penalised for having tried to live a normal life.

There are countries where you cannot get your papers officially changed to reflect your gender identity unless you have been sterilised. Not only must you give up any chance of future parenthood - because, no, you can't get around it by freezing sperm or eggs - in some countries, you must never have been a parent.

There is a word for deciding who, in a human population, is allowed to breed, and who isn't. It's called eugenics. It is an infringement of a basic human right. You would not condone forcing disabled people to be sterilised in order to receive disability benefit. You would not condone forcing immigrants to be sterilised before they could be naturalised as citizens of another country.

There is no reason to believe transgender people make bad parents, any more than other human beings. For we are, indeed, human beings. Not a subspecies or alien parasite. We are perfectly normal people who happen not to identify with the gender role assigned us at birth, to the extent that it causes  psychological suffering. That is all.

The first country in the public eye for continuing to enforce bigoted, inhuman laws is Sweden. Not because the country is bigger or more important than others, but because it's normally a poster child for human rights and they recently had a chance to clean up their act.

They didn't. A small fringe group opposed the reform, and the Government pandered to them. How would you like it if you had to agree to be sterilised in order to have identity papers that match your face?

AllOut.org are running a petition for ask Sweden to change its transphobic law. You can help. Please sign, especially if you're European.

Dear Jay, 
If you are a transgender person in Sweden wanting to change your legal gender, you are forced to undergo surgery that will render you permanently infertile and unable to have children in the future. That's right: in 2012, Swedish law still mandates forced sterilization in order to do something as simple as changing the gender on your driver's license.
Despite a massive push to repeal the law, including support from 90% of Swedish MPs, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has stayed silent on the issue: allowing one small conservative party to block the change.
Right now a reform of the law is being debated in Sweden. We need a massive show of support across Sweden and Europe that finally convinces PM Reinfeldt to speak out and break the deadlock. Will you take one minute to sign our urgent letter? RFSL, the Swedish federation for LGBT rights, will publicly deliver our signatures directly to the Prime Minister and demand that he intervene right now:
Forced sterilization has a long and frightening history in Sweden. Beginning with programs in the 1930s that tried to eliminate certain "undesirable" traits in society by forcing individuals to be sterilized, Sweden has long grappled with the painful history of stripping from citizens what we now consider to be a basic human right. Even Prime Minister Reinfeldt has publicly called sterilization law a "dark chapter in Swedish history".
Now he has a chance to close that chapter for good. reform of the law is ready to be presented directly to the Parliament - where 90% of MPs are in favor of banning forced sterilization - but without a push from the Prime Minister, the conservative KRISTDEMOKRATERNA party will use its seat in the government to block the change.
We know he is on our side: whether you are straight, gay, lesbian, bi or trans, will you take a moment to raise your voice and ask Prime Minister Reinfeldt to take a stand for human rights?
Our friends at RFSL, the Swedish LGBT Federation, will deliver your signatures directly to the Prime Minister's office.
Thank you for going All Out.
Andre, Emmy, Erika, Flavia, Guillaume, Jeremy, Joseph, Oli, Tile, Wesley and the rest of the team at All Out
Sweden: Transgender actress mourns her "forcible sterilization" - Many countries typically seen as progressive on LGBT rights continue to mandate the practice.
Sweden keeps sex-change sterilization law
Human Rights Watch's Letter to the Swedish Prime Minister

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