Norway: High hopes for a watershed moment on transgender rights

Photo: Amnesty International Norway

The Norwegian Ministry of Health’s Expert Committee on legal gender recognition presented its conclusions and recommendations in a press conference today which Amnesty International hopes will pave the way for a watershed moment on transgender rights.

“The Norwegian government now has the opportunity to stamp out an appalling practice that has for more than three decades violated transgender people’s basic rights. They are forced to undergo a range of abusive and invasive processes just to get their gender recognized legally,” said Patricia M. Kaatee, Policy Adviser at Amnesty International Norway, who attended today’s press conference.

The Norwegian government now has the opportunity to stamp out an appalling practice that has for more than three decades violated transgender people’s basic rights. They are forced to undergo a range of abusive and invasive processes just to get their gender recognized legally.
Patricia M. Kaatee, Policy Adviser at Amnesty International Norway

Along with transgender people and NGOs in Norway, Amnesty International submitted input to the Expert Committee, which the Ministry of Health and Care Services set up in 2013.

It is widely hoped that today’s recommendations will result in key reforms to a practice dating back to the 1970s that subjects transgender people in Norway to a set of onerous and discriminatory requirements to legally change their gender. This includes undergoing a psychiatric assessment, obtaining a psychiatric diagnosis, and undergoing irreversible sterilization.

Amnesty International has highlighted how such processes – which are in place in many other European countries – are degrading and violate human rights.

The organization has campaigned extensively on the case of John Jeanette Solstad Remø, a 65-year-old transgender woman from Norway who cannot obtain legal recognition of her gender as she refuses to comply with the current abusive requirements. As a consequence, her official documents refer to her as “male” – which is at odds with her appearance, humiliating and results in her being outed as a “transgender person” on a daily basis.


Read more about Amnesty International’s work on legal gender recognition for transgender people.