SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

Sweden gets its first transgender government minister

Sweden's new Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson named Lina Axelsson Kihlblom as her cabinet's Schools Minister.

Sweden gets its first transgender government minister
From left, new Housing Minister Johan Danielsson, Schools Minister Lina Axelsson Kihlblom, and Social Insurance Minister Ardalan Shekarabi. Photo: Sören Andersson/TT

Axelsson Kihlblom on Tuesday became the first transgender person to become a government minister in the Nordic country, a year after the appointment of Europe’s first transgender minister.

The 51-year-old former school principal and lawyer was added to the Social Democratic government by Andersson, who also became the first woman to hold the post as Prime Minister.

In her 2015 book “Will You Love Me Now?”, Axelsson Kihlblom described growing up as a girl in a boy’s body and her physical transition to a woman’s body, which was completed when she was 25.

“Trans people have always existed, they will always exist and we no longer feel ashamed. We are the new normal,” she wrote in an article published in 2018 by public broadcaster SVT.

KEY POINTS: Everything you need to know about Sweden’s new government

Divorced and the mother of two adopted children, her government portfolio covers primary and secondary schools, while Education Minister Anna Ekström will be in charge of higher education.

In October 2020, a member of the European Parliament, Petra De Sutter, was named Belgium’s deputy prime minister and became the first transgender minister in Europe.

Audrey Tang of Taiwan is considered to have become the world’s first openly transgender government minister in 2016.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

What’s the Swedish Christian Democrats’ abortion contract all about?

Ebba Busch, leader of Sweden's Christian Democrats on Monday presented an "abortion contract", which she wants all of Sweden's party leaders to sign. What's going on?

What's the Swedish Christian Democrats' abortion contract all about?

What’s happened? 

Ebba Busch, leader of Sweden’s Christian Democrat party, called a press conference on Monday in which she presented a document that she called “an abortion contract”, which was essentially a pledge to safeguard the right of women in Sweden to have an abortion.  

“There is room for signatures from all eight party leaders,” she said. “I have already signed on behalf of the Christian Democrats.” 

What does the so-called “abortion contract” say? 

The document itself is fairly uncontroversial.

It states simply that Sweden’s law on abortion dates back to 1974, and that it grants women the right to an abortion up until the 18th week of pregnancy, with women seeking abortions later in their pregnancy required to get permission from the National Board of Health and Welfare. 

“Those of us who have signed this document support Sweden’s abortion legislation and promise to defend it if it comes under attack from forces both within our country and from outside,” the document reads.  

Why have the Christian Democrats produced it? 

The decision of the US Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade, and so allow US states to ban abortion has aroused strong feelings in Sweden, as elsewhere, and Busch is seeking to send a strong signal to distance her own Christian party from the US religious right. 

Abortion has been a recurring issue within the Christian Democrats with several politicians and party members critical of abortion. 

Lars Adaktusson, a Christian Democrat MP, was found by the Dagens Nyheter newspaper to have voted against abortion 22 times when he was a member of the European parliament. 

The party has also in the past campaigned for the right of midwives and other medical professionals who are ethically opposed to abortion not to have to take part in the procedure. 

So why aren’t all the other party leaders signing the document? 

Sweden’s governing Social Democrats, and their Green Party allies, dismissed the contract as a political gimmick designed to help the Christian Democrats distance themselves from elements of their own party critical of abortion. 

“It would perhaps be good if Ebba Busch did some homework within her own party to check that there’s 100 percent support for Sweden’s abortion legislation,” Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s prime minister, said. “That feels like a more important measure than writing contracts between party leaders and trying to solve it that way.”  

In a debate on Swedish television, Green Party leader Märta Stenevi argued that it would be much more significant if Busch’s own MPs and MEPs all signed the document. 

It wasn’t other party leaders who needed to show commitment to abortion legislation, but “her own MPs, MEPs, and not least her proposed government partners in the Sweden Democrats and even some within the Moderate Party”. 

She said it made her “very very worried” to see that the Christian Democrats needed such a contract. “That’s why I see all this more as a clear sign that we need to move forward with protecting the right to abortion in the constitution,” she said. 

How have the other right-wing parties reacted? 

The other right-wing parties have largely backed Busch, although it’s unclear if any other party leaders are willing to actually sign the document. 

Tobias Billström, the Moderates’ group parliamentary leader, retweeted a tweet from Johan Paccamonti, a Stockholm regional politician with the Moderate Party, which criticised the Social Democrats for not signing it, however. 

“It seems to be more important to blow up a pretend conflict than to sign the Christian Democrats’ contract or look at the issue of [including abortion rights in] the constitution, like the Moderates, Liberals and Centre Party want to,” Paccamonti wrote. 

The Liberal Party on Sunday proposed protecting abortion rights in the Swedish constitution, a proposal which has since been backed by the Moderate party and the Centre Party

SHOW COMMENTS