Norway: Experts push for gender recognition changes

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Health and human rights groups in Norway this week urged the country to drop ‘appalling’ requirements for gender recognition.

After promising to review the procedures for gender recognition for trans people last year, the health ministry has released its findings and called for the end of harsh requirements.

Norway, while often viewed as progressive on human rights issues, remains one of the few countries in Europe that requires mandatory genital surgery and sterilisation before granting trans people legal gender recognition. This means trans people who refuse to give up their ability to reproduce are unable to gain the legal protections afforded by gender recognition.

The Expert Committee set up by Ministry of Health and Care Services looked at submissions from health bodies and human rights organisations and concluded that the current system is outdated. They recommend a new system based solely on the basis of “self-determination” for all trans people over the age of eighteen.

Amnesty International, whose petition led to the report being called for, called it a “watershed moment”. In a statement, Patricia M. Kaatee, Policy Adviser at Amnesty International Norway said: “The Norwegian government now has the opportunity to stamp out an appalling practice that has for more than three decades violated transgender people’s basic rights. They are forced to undergo a range of abusive and invasive processes just to get their gender recognized legally.”

In December, Amnesty released a report into gender recognition requirements across Europe.

Last month, the European Court ruled that Turkey could no longer require trans people to be sterilised.