Finland Fails to Change Law Forcing Transgender Sterilization

Finnish officials have failed to change a law that requires trans people to be sterilized before they can update their gender identity on government records — a statute that glaringly infringes upon basic human rights.

The Act on Legal Recognition of the Gender of Transsexuals, or “Trans Act,” spells out the process by which people can change their gender. LGBT activists have long called the act barbaric for a number of reasons — chiefly because the law requires de facto sterilization and lengthy mental screening before a person can receive approval for official gender change.

In late August, civil rights advocates hoped that government ministers would take up recommendations from outside agencies — including a wing of the UN — to amend that law. But officials recently announced that the government will make no such changes to the sterilization requirement.

While the reason behind this decision remains unknown, the Finnish government reportedly issued a simple notice stating, The abolition of the Infertility requirement is not included in the current Government’s legislative plan.”

While it’s undeniable that LGBT rights recognition has improved in many places around the world, trans people in particular still face high levels of societal discrimination and government sanctioned violations of their rights.

This reality is perhaps most apparent in laws that require a person to undergo surgical procedures before officially registering a change of gender. Surgery may leave these individuals sterilized or physically altered in ways they neither require nor desire.

Some may wonder why it is so important for trans people to receive an official gender change, but gender markers are often a crucial aspect of confirming one’s identity on official records. This is especially relevant in Finland where gender markers are registered at birth and used on everything from drivers licenses and passports to library cards.

And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the deep harm that comes from forcing someone to choose between living with their gender officially recognized and being able to have children. While the European Court of Human Rights has previously ruled against the right to live gender-affirmed and free of sterilization,the Court revisited the issue in April of 2017 and declared forced sterilization to be against basic human rights.

Indeed, the UN Human Rights Council has called on Finnish lawmakers to revise the Trans Act and remove several of its more problematic clauses — including abolishing the sterilization requirement and removing the requirement for medical treatment or a mental health diagnosis of “transsexualism.” This was to be replaced with a gender recognition procedure that would allow people, irrespective of age or medical history, to change their gender in a self-directed way with minimum oversight.

Rebecca Dallison of Amnesty UK told Gay Star News:

Despite strong international pressure, Finland has decided to reject recommendations from the Universal periodic review in the UN Human Rights Council to reform the Trans Act. Not only has the Finnish Government chosen to turn its back on trans people, but it has also failed to provide any justification for this regressive decision.

Amnesty has spearheaded a campaign to change Finland’s Trans Act. Sakris Kupila, a 21 year-old medical student and the face of the campaign, emphasized that the fight isn’t yet over:

I am disappointed. But I am so proud you all stood up with me to give a powerful message to the Prime Minister, Juha Sipilä: that we’re watching, we will not be ignored and we will not stop fighting for trans rights in Finland.

Around 20 nations in Europe currently require sterilization, either through a direct mandate or by requiring a trans person to undergo genital change surgeries before changing their official gender. Meanwhile, 36 countries in Europe require a mental health diagnosis for legal gender affirmation. This infringement of basic rights has to stop.

Take Action!

Call on Finland to reform the Trans Act now by signing this Care2 petition. There must be no delay in giving people their basic human rights.

Photo Credit: Sepi V/Flickr

43 comments

Richard B
Richard B1 months ago

tyfs

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Teresa W
Teresa W2 months ago

Pam, maybe Glennis didn't read the article carefully enough?

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Teresa W
Teresa W2 months ago

JT Smith, apparently some trans people are fertile. Some years ago, a man who used to be a woman (he had undergone a gender reassignment operation but without removing the uterus) got pregnant.

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JT Smith
JT Smith2 months ago

People who write articles like this and/or try to push petitions such as this demonstrate a massive ignorance of basic biology! The fact is this, unless ALL of the gender-specific internal organs are changed (this means that not only are the penis/vagina completely reversed, but the testes/ovaries and the uterus/prostate must ALSO be completely swapped out, as well as the rest of the internal supporting organs [and in the case of male->female transsexuals the pelvic opening must also be enlarged to allow for a birth canal]), then by going through the gender reassignment surgery a transgender/transsexual has actually sterilized THEMSELVES and there isn't ANYTHING that Any doctor can d about it. This is not bigotry, it is science. I don't want anyone's rights taken away from them. I am merely pointing out the harsh reality.

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Elaine W
Elaine W2 months ago

Petition gladly signed against stupid law.

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Elaine W
Elaine W2 months ago

Horrendous ignorance and cruelty.

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One Heart inc
One Heart inc2 months ago

Thanks!!!

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pam w
pam w2 months ago

WOW....three posts from Glennis (who says her goal is to be kind and gentle to all people.) Guess you left off the part about transgender people. Guess they just don't count?

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s2 months ago

Shame on you Finland.

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Glennis W
Glennis W2 months ago

Greatest news of the week keep it up Finland Thank you for caring and sharing

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