Swedish transgender people who accepted a stipulation to undergo sterilisation if they had gender reassignment surgery are planning to sue the government, following a recent repeal of the old sterilisation law.
Nova Colliander is a trans woman who underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2010, three years before the sterilisation rule was lifted. She says that the sterilisation of trans people, and the subsequent refusal to pay compensation, is a black mark on Sweden’s typically liberal and progressive record.
“Beautiful Sweden, with its pretty red wooden cabins… But (the reality is that) forced sterilisation of transsexuals [sic] existed until 2013,” she says.
“A lot of people want children, and it’s crazy to think that we are different than anyone else in this regard. We want children just as much as anyone else.”
Ms Colliander has previously said in an interview that she accepted the sterilisation because she felt the need for gender reassignment so strongly that “the alternative was to die”.
The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) has taken up the case as the government has not responded to claims for compensation.
Lawyer Kerstin Burman plans to represent around 135 of the trans individuals seeking compensation.
“I’m disappointed, sad, and a little angry. I had expected more of my elected officials,” she says.
In 1999 it offered compensation of 175,000 krona (£17,800) to victims of forced sterilisation under a eugenics programme which ran between 1934 and 1976.
Around 62,000 people, 90% of them women, were sterilised. 230,000 victims and their families have received not compensation.
“Reading between the lines, they’re saying they didn’t do anything wrong, and by doing so, they’re legitimising the kind of violation we face,” says Ms Colliander.