Af­ter Malta, Nor­way be­comes sec­ond coun­try to al­low chil­dren to change gen­der

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Af­ter Malta in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion to al­low chil­dren to change their gen­der, Nor­way has now be­come the world’s sec­ond coun­try that al­lows chil­dren to have their gen­der changed.

Nor­way, a wealthy, pro­gres­sive na­tion of five mil­lion peo­ple, re­cently be­came the fifth coun­try in the world to al­low adults to legally change gen­ders with­out a doc­tor’s agree­ment or in­ter­ven­tion. Ar­gentina, Ireland and Den­mark have sim­i­lar laws.

But only Malta and Nor­way have ex­tended the lib­er­alised rules to chil­dren.

Pro­vided they have parental con­sent, Nor­we­gian chil­dren as young as six can now self-iden­tify as male or fe­male, ef­fec­tively over­rul­ing the gen­der as­signed to them at birth.

With no re­quire­ment for surgery or coun­selling, the process in Nor­way is as easy as fil­ing a tax re­turn. So far, Nor­way has not re­fused a sin­gle ap­pli­ca­tion.

Al­though Nor­we­gian law­mak­ers con­cede that some of the ques­tions sur­round­ing trans­gen­der chil­dren re­main un­set­tled, the law gen­er­ated lit­tle con­tro­versy when it was in­tro­duced. Par­lia­ment mem­bers from left to right ap­proved the leg­is­la­tion in June on a 79-13 vote.

Law­mak­ers con­sid­ered adding a manda­tory re­flec­tion pe­riod for both adults and chil­dren be­fore they could legally tran­si­tion, but con­cluded that would be “pa­tro­n­is­ing”.

In­stead, af­ter com­plet­ing an on­line form that gen­er­ates a mailed re­sponse from tax au­thor­i­ties, ap­pli­cants must only re­turn a let­ter con­firm­ing their in­ten­tion to change gen­ders.

Once their ap­pli­ca­tions are ap­proved, they re­ceive a new na­tional iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber that un­locks the abil­ity to up­date all forms of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, from passports and driver’s li­censes to birth cer­tifi­cates and credit cards. The tax ID num­bers in Nor­way are gen­der-spe­cific.

Un­til July, Nor­way was one of 32 Euro­pean coun­tries that re­quired peo­ple to un­dergo long pe­ri­ods of coun­sel­ing, hor­mone re­place­ment and ul­ti­mately sex re­as­sign­ment surgery be­fore their gen­der changes would be legally recog­nised.

The pro­vi­sion ef­fec­tively pre­vented chil­dren from tran­si­tion­ing legally and put off many adults who ei­ther couldn’t afford or didn’t want the surgery. In the United States, re­quire­ments vary by state, but trans­gen­der res­i­dents gen­er­ally must pro­vide proof of “clin­i­cally ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment.”

Al­though Malta al­lows par­ents or guardians to seek gen­der changes on be­half of chil­dren in court, Nor­way is the only coun­try where mi­nors go through the same ad­min­is­tra­tive process as adults.

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