• Sweden edition
 
Swedish transgendereds battle for forced sterilization payouts

Swedish transgendereds battle for forced sterilization payouts

Published: 27 Feb 2013 08:23 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Feb 2013 08:23 GMT+01:00

Sweden is often hailed as a forward-thinking society promoting equality for all, but transsexuals who had to accept to be sterilized to complete their sex changes on paper are pushing for compensation after a change in the law.

Nova Colliander, 31, who completed her transformation from man to woman in 2010, says she suffered discrimination when she was irreversibly sterilized as part of the sex change process.

"Beautiful Sweden, with its pretty red wooden cabins... But (the reality is that) forced sterilizations of transsexuals existed until 2013," she says.

"A lot of people want children, and it's crazy to think that we are different than anyone else in this regard. We want children just as much as anyone else."

Until last year, the operation was obligatory for transsexuals who wanted their sex change to be officially recognized by authorities, with their personal identity documents reflecting their new gender.

But in December, a Swedish court ruled that the practice of forced sterilizations, which dated back to a 1972 law on sexual identity, was unconstitutional and violated the European Convention on Human Rights.

The ruling was not appealed, and a ban therefore entered into force on January 10th.

"We didn't have the right to become parents, we didn't have the right to freeze our eggs or our sperm," explains Love Elfvelin, a 22-year-old who recently had a double mastectomy to become a man, and who will not have to undergo sterilization to complete the sex change.

The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) is now preparing to help transgendereds who were sterilized under the old law to obtain damages.

So far, the government has refused to pay.

"Reading between the lines, they're saying they didn't do anything wrong," says Colliander.

"And by doing so, they're legitimizing the kind of violation we face."

Kerstin Burman, the lawyer who represents the 135 transsexuals who plan to file a complaint against the state in a few months' time, explains that "since lawmakers are not taking the initiative, we are building a legal case".

With the law now scrapped by the courts, "we have the state up against a wall", says Colliander.

"I'm disappointed, sad, and a little angry, I had expected more of my elected officials," she says.

"Sterilization was an unnecessary price to pay but if you indicated that you weren't willing to do it, that could have put an end to the (sex change) procedure, which was a matter of survival," she recalls matter-of-factly.

She says the government's refusal to pay damages is disappointing, given the fact that Sweden previously paid compensation to 230,000 victims of forced sterilizations under a eugenics programme from 1935 until 1996.

In 1999, the parliament adopted a law granting damages of 175,000 kronor ($27,000) to those victims.

At the RFSL offices in central Stockholm, Colliander and Elfvelin speak freely about their sex changes.

Colliander, a woman of a strong build and long sandy hair, wearing little make-up, is clad in black jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt, a woolly cap on her head. Outgoing and friendly, her voice is that of a woman but she admits she is often "mistaken for a man".

Elfvelin, sitting with his legs comfortably spread apart, is slender with short brown hair and a few days' stubble, dressed casually in jeans and a plaid shirt.

There is little to indicate that he was born a woman except perhaps that he is not quite as tall as most Swedish men.

Both become more reserved when the subject turns to what the future holds for them.

Colliander, who got married on December 1st to someone whose gender she refuses to disclose, does not plan to have children.

But things are different for Elfvelin, who is in the process of officially changing his identity documents to show that he is now a man. He is one of the first transsexuals in Sweden who does not need to be sterilized to do so.

And he is ready to take another pioneering step, though he is not sure he will succeed.

"I think I'll be able to have my own biological children, but at the same time I'm very aware that that is something I really have to believe in in order to have the strength to fight that battle," he says.

Contrary to his idol, American "pregnant man" Thomas Beatie who retained his female reproductive organs to give birth to three children, Elfvelin does no plan to bear his own.

The first step will be to retrieve some of his eggs.

"But first I'll have to stop taking my testosterone. Nobody knows how long I would have to stop for, and if my eggs are fertile" after taking testosterone for three years, he says.

"We don't know if it's going to work."

"I'm heterosexual but my partner isn't a woman," Elfvelin says, using the gender neutral pronoun "zie" to refer to his partner who he explains "doesn't want to be (gender) defined".

However, "zie will probably carry our child," he says.

For that to happen the couple would need a sperm donor, and then the embryo would be inseminated into Elfvelin's partner.

But since the egg is not his partner's and the sperm is not his, the insemination would be considered an embryo donation, which is banned in Sweden.

"With activism and politics we plan to try to get the law on embryo donation changed," Elfvelin says.

The next battle.

Camille Bas-Wohlert/AFP/The Local/dl

Follow The Local on Twitter

Your comments about this article

20:32 February 28, 2013 by HenryPollard
If the Swedes are weak enough to pay out on this issue, I have decided that I will be moving all of my money and businesses offshore. I can't contribute to the funding of something so illogical.

The Swedish state already pays for transsexuals to get boob jobs, penis removal, creation of a fake vagina, facial feminisation surgery, creation of a fake penis, breast removal.

This stuff is extremely expensive, and now they want more money because someone suggested that people who are claiming to be women shouldn't have sperm.
23:46 March 1, 2013 by theobserver
It is called Eugenics:

Practiced by the Nazis (until the end of WWII, 1945) and by Swedes (until 1975):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics
13:47 March 8, 2013 by rohermoker
Anything for a Dollar mean Kronar. Do they not understand contract law?
Today's headlines
Elections 2014
Reinfeldt in US for first post-election speech
Fredrik Reinfeldt after a previous meeting in the US. Photo: TT

Reinfeldt in US for first post-election speech

Outgoing Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt is at a UN climate summit in New York where he is making his first public appearance since election night. READ  

Elections 2014
Loophole lets neo-Nazis onto Swedish councils
Members of the Party of the Swedes march in central Stockholm in August 2014. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

Loophole lets neo-Nazis onto Swedish councils

Two neo-Nazis who received only a handful of votes have won seats on Swedish councils thanks to a kink in the country’s election laws. READ  

Assange extradition battle
Sweden pours doubt on Assange extradition
Julian Assange is currently living inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Photo: TT

Sweden pours doubt on Assange extradition

Swedish prosecutors said it was "far-fetched" to think that fugitive Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could be extradited to the United States if he returned to Sweden, in a statement released on Tuesday. READ  

Police drop case of thief caught on camera
Happier times at Park Lane: Charles Simonyi and Lisa Persdotter celebrate thier wedding in 2008. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/Scanpix

Police drop case of thief caught on camera

Damning video evidence and an apology from an alleged thief’s daughter were not enough to convince police that a well-known criminal had stolen hundreds of thousands of kronor worth of equipment from one of Gothenburg’s most popular night spots. READ  

Opinion
Sweden 'missed' global opportunities
Sweden's outgoing Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. Photo: TT

Sweden 'missed' global opportunities

As Stefan Löfven attempts to form a coalition government, Social Democrat MEP Jytte Guteland says her party needs to focus on Sweden's international image. READ  

National
Politics 'most shared' topic in Sweden
Photo: Shutterstock

Politics 'most shared' topic in Sweden

Swedes are more likely to share posts or articles on politics than on any other issues, according to a new report from Mid Sweden University. READ  

National
Fears schoolboy murdered in Sweden
Photo: TT

Fears schoolboy murdered in Sweden

Police in Halmstad say the results of forensic tests suggest a 16-year-old boy found dead in a creek was murdered. READ  

National
Elk hunters risk injury in Sweden’s woods
Hunter Ingela Olsson loads her rifle at sunrise in Norrbölla, northern Sweden. File photo: Gunnar Lundmark/SvD/Scanpix

Elk hunters risk injury in Sweden’s woods

Sweden’s vast annual elk hunt spells danger not just for the majestic animals but also for hunters, with crumbling towers and over-tiredness just two of the season’s perils. READ  

Malmö
Rat invasion closes Malmö preschool
Rats like this one have been found in a kindergarten. Photo: TT

Rat invasion closes Malmö preschool

Children in central Malmö are staying at home on Tuesday after a rat infestation was discovered at their kindergarten. READ  

National
Sweden's benefit agency site restored
Photo: TT

Sweden's benefit agency site restored

UPDATED: Sweden's Social Insurance Agency website is working again after being out of action since Monday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Property of the week - Torslanda
Finest
Gallery
People-watching: September 20th
The 'black gold' of Sweden's west coast.
National
West Sweden prepares for the 2014 lobster premiere
Society
What's on in Sweden
Politics
How Sweden Democrats went mainstream
Blog updates

22 September

Welcome National Geographic! (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"What comes to mind when you think of the “The Arctic”? Crystal-encased cliffs jutting from the sea, baronial Polar bears scavenging over sheets of cracked ice or a lone explorer heading north into the night. The image my mind invokes is of three sparkling green lines splashed across the sky like graffiti— the Aurora Borealis— our..." READ »

 

19 September

Editor’s blog (The Local Sweden) »

"Happy Friday readers! It sure has been a exciting week in Sweden, where we’re set to get a new Prime Minister after Fredrik Reinfeldt stepped down following Sunday’s elections. The Local blogged live from the key political gatherings across Stockholm. Why not re-visit the action by taking a look at our photos, tweets, videos and analysis? Since the..." READ »

 
 
 
Politics
Scandinavia and Scotland: closer links?
Gallery
Property of the week - Eskilstuna
Sponsored Article
How to start a business in Stockholm
Society
How I became a surf blogger when I moved to Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 13th
Society
Why is Stockholm's Södermalm so cool?
Gallery
People-watching: September 11th
Gallery
People-watching: September 13th
Politics
Five possible election outcomes
Politics
Sweden elections: How do they work?
Politics
Sweden elections: Who's who?
Gallery
Property of the week - Hornstull, Stockholm
Analysis
Five differences between the UK and Sweden
Welshman Jonny Luck is now a chef in Sweden
Society
How I opened my own restaurant in Sweden's Malmö
Sponsored Article
Stockholm tech fest: relive the magic
Gallery
People-watching September 8th
Photo: TT
Politics
Feminists fight for first seats
Politics
Immigration cut push from Sweden Democrats
Sheryl Sandberg says women have "low expectations"
Tech
Facebook exec talks women's limits in Swedish business
Politics
Left Party calls for justice and equality
Sponsored Article
Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Graduates: Insure your income in Sweden with AEA
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

858
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN