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Long-awaited trans law moves forward

The current trans law dates back to 2002 and has not undergone any major changes since then.

At Helsinki Pride this past summer, PM Sanna Marin (SDP) said that a new amendment to the trans law should be expected in September. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

The government has finalised its proposal to amend Finland's transgender legislation and submitted the draft bill to Parliament.

The current law —last updated in 2002— stipulates that in order for transgender individuals to legally change their gender, they must be sterile and unable to reproduce.

The sterility requirement has been widely condemned, with critics such as the Council of Europe and other human rights organisations saying it violates bodily autonomy and human rights.

After the Social Democratic Party became the majority party in the governing coalition in 2019, then-Prime Minister Antti Rinne (SDP) said that updating the law was a goal he wanted to achieve before the next election.

While the government of current Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) started to reform the law in early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic dragged the reform work down for a long time.

At Helsinki Pride in July this past summer, Marin said that the new trans law would go to Parliament in September.

Proposed changes

If passed in its current form, the updated law would mean self-declaration would be sufficient for gender confirmation. In the past, legal gender reassignment required a lengthy medical process. This amendment seeks to separate the legal side of transitioning from medical treatments.

Additionally, the requirement of being unable to reproduce children would be abolished. Under the current law, transgender people are required to have a medical certificate proving they are sterile, in order to legally confirm their true gender.

Finally, a psychiatric assessment would no longer be needed as part of legal gender reassignment. Removing this step, along with the medical requirements, essentially means that legal gender transitioning is a choice taken solely by an individual, with no third-party stake.

Law already criticised

The new update on the trans law has been criticised in its preparatory phase for not allowing minors to legally change their gender.

Trans activists have argued that the law does not take into account those under the age of 18 years-old who should also be allowed to legally transition.

The amendment still has to go through parliamentary scrutiny before it can enter into force, where it is likely to raise much debate and opposition across the political spectrum.