Forty sex changes in 2005

More and more Swedes are switching teams and undergoing surgical sex changes. During the past 13 years, the number of applications has tripled.

Last year some 50 people applied for the operation of which 40 had their wished fulfilled.

“How can I explain it so that people can understand?” said Maria, one of those who had the procedure done.

“I look like a woman, like any other 45-year-old, fresh looking, well-dressed, just like any other woman in town. Several years ago I was a pretty muscular, hairy, closely shaven and serious. I looked like a sloppy bodybuilder, not caring much about how I looked,” said Maria, according to Swedish Radio on Friday.

Maria underwent her last treatment about a year ago. To change her gender and get legal approval, Maria had to get a thumbs up from The National Board of Health and Welfare.

In the past, twice as many men want to become women.

According to law, the candidate must be an unmarried, sterile, Swedish citizen of at least 18 years.

Since the Swedish law was passed in 1972, some 500 people have been through sex change process.

“It has increased during the past five to 10 years to where it is now up to 50 cases per year where it used to be 10 to 15 cases per year,” said Bengt Lundström. “I think it depends on that there is a sort of coming-out process generally in society for people who are not exactly that which norms permit.