Sweden could introduce legal ‘third gender’

sweden pride parade

Sweden could legally recognise a third gender and allow gender-neutral passports, under radical new proposals.

The country’s government had ordered an inquiry into improving the well-being of the country’s trans community.

Swedish Democracy Minister Alice Bag Kunke this week received an almost 1,000-page government report on recommended steps to improve the living conditions of trans people.

The report was ordered earlier this year to “investigate how trans people are affected by society’s cis and hetero norms.”

Poor mental health and elevated suicide risk in transgender people have been cited in previous investigations.

The Ministry of Culture tweeted about the report’s aims to strengthen the “status and better living conditions” of trans people.

60% of transgender people between the ages of 15 and 19 have considered taking their lives at some point over the past year, while 40% have attempted suicide.

“Young trans people are a group where suicidal tendencies have increased in an especially clear way, we can’t have that. We need to make targeted efforts,” said Minister for Social Affairs Annika Strandhäll, according to The Local.

The report proposes the creation of a third legal gender, following recent steps of Germany.

Other proposals include a gender-neutral option on Swedish passports to make it easier for people to travel, in line with standards in New Zealand and Canada.

It also recommended state funding for projects aimed at developing trans-inclusive environments.

The National Board of Housing, Building and Planning was advised to create guidelines on gender-neutral changing rooms and toilets.

Ulrika Westerlund, the president of RFSL, The Swedish federation of LGBTQ rights 2010-2016. (Johan Fredriksson)

An overhaul of the personal number was also advised.

Personal numbers are the Swedish equivalent of a US social security, number and are necessary for tasks such as registering with a doctor or signing up to a bank account.

But as these numbers are linked to an individual’s gender, this can lead to problems if that gender changes.

“This can create huge difficulties, perhaps especially if you’re young and don’t have so many resources,” explained Ulrika Westerlund, who led the inquiry.

Sweden has taken many initiatives to improve the lives of its trans population in recent months.

Earlier this year, the National Board of Health and Welfare announced it will stop classifying transgender people as ‘mentally hill’.

In the country’s capital, Stockholm was praised for its imaginative LGBT-friendly traffic lights set-up for its 2017 Pride week.