ANDREA HOUSTON - It was shocking to learn last week that Sweden – a country with a reputation as friendly and welcoming to queer people – forces trans people to undergo sterilization to change their genders.

 

And it's not a new law. It's been on the books since 1972. Trans people must also prove that they do not have any eggs or sperm saved in a bank somewhere.

"I'm speaking out today because the Swedish government is forcing thousands of people like me to make an impossible choice," says the Swedish trans man in the video. "If I need to change the gender of my identity cards to reflect my true self, just a small change from an 'F' to an 'M,' my country forces me to be sterilized."

Although a majority of Swedish parliamentarians are said to be in favour of changing the law, government officials announced last week that the coalition will not seek to repeal it.

 

Someone remind Sweden that eugenics has really fallen out of fashion since it became associated with Nazis.

Not surprisingly, queer activists are reacting with outrage.

In England, the first trans teen to enter the Miss England competition is leading in her section of the pageant. She hopes to use the exposure to raise awareness of bullying and issues surrounding trans people.

"She had gender reassignment surgery at 16, after attending school as a girl from the age of 10, but knew she wanted to change gender from the age of four," PinkNews UK reports. 

Because of bullying, Green attempted suicide five times when she was younger but is grateful for the support of her mother. She said, "I can never thank my mom enough; she saved my life."

That's what good parents do. They support their children.

Then there's this guy: Representative Richard Floyd, a Republican legislator in Tennessee. A man who threatens violence if he should ever meet a trans person, even if it's in front of his children or grandchildren. What a positive role model.

He is trying to get the “Bathroom Harassment Act” passed in the Tennessee legislature. The bill that would fine trans people $50 for using bathrooms and dressing rooms.

“I don’t care how depraved their mind is, how perverted their mind is, or for what reason they think that a man has a right to go into a woman’s bathroom or dressing room to try on clothes . . . I know how I would respond and react if I was standing in a dressing room with my wife, one of my daughters or my granddaughters, and some man started in there trying on clothes. It would be a bad career day for him, and probably for me . . .”

Thankfully, the senate sponsor of Floyd's bill recently withdrew his support for the legislation leaving the bill with no sponsor.

Meanwhile in Maryland, Baltimore County is considering a bill to protect transgender people from discrimination in public accommodations, such as washrooms.

Wow! Great news! Oh, wait. Conservative religious groups are trying to smear all trans individuals as sexual predators.

The bill was created in the hope of protecting people from incidents like the savage attack at a Baltimore McDonald's last April. A woman was beaten while approximately six employees stood by and watched. 

Transgender activists are celebrating in Massachusetts after a bill was signed into law that bans "many types of discrimination." The new law includes transgender people in an anti-discrimination statement that affects employment, housing, insurance and credit, as well as including trans people in hate-crimes laws, reports the Boston Herald.

Trans Canadians are still fighting for protection, both at the provincial and federal level.

The Trans Lobby Group is hosting a meeting at Toronto's Metropolitan Church on Saturday, Jan 28 at 9:30am that concerns amending the Ontario Human Rights Code to include gender identity in the Vital Statistics Act so that trans people can have legal documents that accurately reflect their presentation.

Confirmed panellists include Cheri DiNovo, NDP MPP for Parkdale-High Park; Douglas Elliott, human rights lawyer; Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario; and Alastair Woods, from the Canadian Federation of Students Ontario.

Finally, congratulations to Canada's long-running high school drama Degrassi, which has been nominated for a Best Drama prize from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Degrassi introduced its first gay storyline in 1988 and broke new ground in 2010 when it introduced its first transgender character.

I’ll leave you with this sensitive and charming Ikea ad featuring a transsexual woman “redecorating her life.”

 

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