“Breast implants for transgender women are in many cases an very important measure for them to function with their new identity and allow them to fit in as women in everyday life,” the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) wrote in a petition to the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).
RFSL goes on to warn that transgender people who are refused breast implants as a compliment to hormone treatment and suffer from a variety of psychological problems, resulting in an “alarmingly” high suicide rate.
“Plastic surgery for transsexual patients, to a large extent, saves lives,” according to RFSL, citing the health board’s own findings statistics showing that the suicide rate among patients denied breast implants is 30 to 40 percent, compared with only 1.6 percent for the general population.
The advocacy group filed the petition with Swedish health authorities in response to reports that a transgender person was recently denied breast implants by a the Södra Älvsborgs hospital in Alingsås in western Sweden.
According to RFSL, the hospital’s decision reveals inconsistencies in how transgender people are handled in the Swedish health system.
“It’s not acceptable that a small and vulnerable group of transgender people such as this transexual group is given different rights to care depending on where in the country they live,” RFSL wrote.
The organization now wants the health board to draw up national guidelines for dealing with requests by transgender people for breast implants.
In its petition, RFSL emphasized the importance of respecting “an individual’s value and right to decide over their identity”.
“RFSL demands that care for transgender people be given under the same conditions regardless of where one lives in Sweden,” the group wrote.