Scenes From the Trans Struggle

August 26, 2008

Over at The Bilerico Project, I see that Mercedes Allen has posted a useful round-up of recent trans-related news events and I recommend reading her full report – link here.

One item that caught my eye is Mercedes’ coverage of the Swedish plan to legislate for the mandatory physical sterilisation of trans people, be they trans women or trans men. I have to say that I’m surprised that a country like Sweden – which has something of a reputation for open-mindedness and tolerance – is considering this.

It seems to show an astonishing lack of knowledge about gender identity issues, to the point where I’m almost inclined to interpret it as moral panic. But Mercedes is a far better writer than I, so I’ll let her tell the full story:

Out of fear of transsexuals parenting children — apparently sparked by the news coverage of Thomas Beatie — a proposal is in the works in Sweden to implement mandatory physical sterilization of transsexuals via removal of the testes or ovaries. These procedures are, of course, a part of full transition, assuming that all transsexuals wish to go that route (not all do), but the proposal is overly-sweeping, takes the decision (and a fundamental human right) away from people and is clearly driven by fear of transsexuals parenting. In addition to smacking of eugenics, there are serious flaws with the plan. In the case of male-to-female transsexuals who are not able to get GRS at the same time (finances, perhaps not completed their RLE yet, depending on when castration is required to occur), there are additional consequences. General surgeons who perform orchiectomies have a reputation for butchering the surrounding tissue in the process, and for this reason, many GRS surgeons are reluctant or flatly refuse to accept a patient who has had the procedure performed.

It’s stories like this that can really make a girl angry. Or depressed. Or both.

And I think it’s fair to say that any such legislation, assuming it goes ahead, would be a rather extreme example of Transphobic Trope #4 – “My Theories Are More Important Than Your Experience”, which is so accurately explained by Lisa and Em over at the indispensable Questioning Transphobia blog.

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