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Denmark criticised for discriminating against transgendered

Transgendered face operations and psychological examination to get passports and ID cards


Denmark's current legislation surrounding the transgendered stems from the 1930's and was originally used to ‘cure’ rapists and homosexual people by means of castration (Photo: Scanpix)

February 4, 2014
11:03

by Christian Wenande


A new report from the Danish branch of the human-rights organisation Amnesty International has blasted Denmark for discriminating against the thousands of transgendered individuals who live in the country.

To receive a legally-binding sex change – one that would confer the right to obtain a new CPR number – the transgendered are forced to undergo operations such as sterilisations or castrations, even though many simply want to change their appearance using hormonal treatment.

“We force the transgendered to make an impossible decision,” Helle Jacobsen, a campaign leader for Amnesty International Danmark, said in a press release. “Either they submit to a number of humiliating interventions, such as years of psychological analysis or a risky – and for many – unnecessary operation. Or else they must go on living with a gender that doesn’t fit with their identity or appearance.”

READ MORE: More focus on LGBT in the workplace

Archaic law must go
Amnesty urged the government to remove the castration demand from the current legislation for transgendered who wish to acquire a passport, CPR card or other documents that reflect their gender.

“The Danish castration law stems from the 1930s and was originally used to ‘cure’ rapists and homosexual people by means of castration,” Jacobsen said. “It is grotesque that this law is the basis of our treatment of the transgendered.”

Amnesty also wants transgender to be removed from the official list of psychological illnesses because it is “discriminating” and offensive.

“We see ourselves as pioneers when it comes to the rights of homosexuals, and we should ensure that the same is the case with the transgendered,” Jacobsen said.

READ MORE: Transsexuality redefined

Political will is there
It seems that the politicians are listening to the pleas from Amnesty International and the transgendered, because plans are afoot to change the controversial legislation.

”You have to be castrated just to be able to get a passport that shows that you belong to another gender and I think that this is very extreme,” Stine Brix, an Enhedslisten spokesperson, told DR Nyheder. “It’s a demand that many other nations have abolished and I strongly believe that we also will in Denmark soon.”

Flemming Møller Mortensen, a spokesperson for Socialdemokraterne, agreed with Brix, arguing that the castration demand is unfair.

“It doesn’t make sense that an operation should be a demand,” Mortensen told DR Nyheder. “Through my evaluations and the discussions that I’ve had with my colleagues in parliament, this law change is going to happen.”

Amnesty International estimates that there are about 3,000 transgendered people in Denmark.



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