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Sex change ops under review in Sweden

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10:19 CEST+02:00
The Swedish Board for Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) has launched a review of the healthcare alternatives available to transsexuals seeking to change gender.

Organizations representing gay, bisexual and transsexual people have long argued that often inconsistent healthcare services do not cater fully to their needs.

Criticism has centred on issues such as the long delays in the sex reassignment process with variations of up to several years depending on locality.

There are also significant differences in price for various operations and procedures among the county health authorities and inconsistencies in how much the transsexuals themselves have to contribute.

"The hope is that we shall offer healthcare for this group which is of high quality and which is consistent across the country, and that it should improve the quality of life for transsexual people," Håkan Ceder at the board said to Sveriges Radio (SR).

According to legislation passed in 1972, to undergo a sex change operation a person must be over 18-years-old, a Swedish citizen, be sterilized and unmarried.

In order to establish a person's gender a psychiatric examination must have been completed before an application can be submitted to the Health and Welfare Board's legal council for confirmation.

Following the confirmation of a new gender the transsexual person is issued with a new personal identification number (personnummer) and are then able to elect to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

The number of people applying for sex reassignment surgery is increasing.

For thirty years it averaged at about 12-15 people per year until 2003, when it climbed to around 25 per year, according to the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL).

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