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18 Apr, 2024 14:23

EU state lowers age at which children may change gender

Sweden has lowered the age permitting citizens to identify as a different sex to 16
EU state lowers age at which children may change gender

Sweden’s parliament on Wednesday passed a law lowering the minimum age to legally change gender from 18 to 16, as well as making the process easier. The step has been approved despite criticism from within the government coalition.    

The legislation on self-identification was passed by a vote of 234 to 94 in Sweden’s 349-seat parliament.  

Sweden was the first country to make gender transition legal in 1972. However, a person currently requires a doctor’s diagnosis of gender dysphoria to be allowed to change their legally recognized gender.  

Under the new law, which will come into force next year, a shorter consultation with a doctor or a psychologist will suffice. It will also eliminate the need to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria, where a person may experience distress as a result of a mismatch between their biological sex and the gender they identify as.   

Swedish citizens will be able to change their sex at 16, although those under 18 will need the approval of their parents, a doctor, and the National Board of Health and Welfare. The new law will also separate the process of changing legal gender from sex-change surgery, which will still only be allowed from the age of 18.  

The legislation has sparked intense debate, and the ruling center-right coalition has been split on the issue. Moderates and the Liberals largely supporting the law, while the smaller Christian Democrats opposed it.   

“This is not a revolution we are doing today, it is a reform,” Johan Hultberg of the Moderates said during a parliamentary debate. “It is not reasonable that there should be the same requirements for changing legal gender as for making an irreversible gender confirming surgery.”  

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has defended the proposal as “balanced and responsible.” Meanwhile, many MPs have urged more research into gender dysphoria first.  

The leader of the Sweden Democrats, Jimmie Akesson, said it was “deplorable that a proposal that obviously lacks support among the population is so casually voted through.”  

Carita Boulwen of the Sweden Democrats called it a “reprehensible” proposal, which risks having “unforeseen and serious consequences” for society.  

The bill is also unpopular among the public. According to a recent poll conducted by Swedish television network TV4, 59% of Swedes said it is a bad or very bad proposal, while 22% thought it was a positive move, Reuters reported.    

A number of EU countries, including Denmark, Norway, Finland, Germany, and Spain, already have similar laws.

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