Finland’s parliament voted 113-69 on Wednesday in favor of allowing transgender individuals to change their legal sex by self-declaration.
The new law removes the need for a psychiatric diagnosis of gender dysphoria prior to gaining legal recognition of a self-declared gender identity and also takes out the requirement for transgender people to be sterilized in order to be recognized as members of the opposite sex. Instead, recognition will be granted following a written application and a 30-day reflection period, according to ABC News.
Finland’s existing legislation that required transgender people to provide a medical certificate proving that they were sterile in order to change their legal sex was found to be in breach of the European Convention on Human rights.
However, the new law only implements a system of self-identification for adults, which trans activist groups argue doesn’t go far enough.
"Excluding children from legal gender recognition violates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child," said Amnesty International Finland’s LGBTI Rights Advisor Matti Pihlajamaa. "We will continue to call on the government to amend the legislation accordingly to ensure it advances the rights of children."
But Dr. Riittakerttu Kaltiala, Finland's leading expert on pediatric gender medicine and chief psychiatrist at its largest gender clinic disagrees.
In an interview with Finland’s leading newspaper, Klatiala argues that changing the legal sex marker in youth is not a formality that states a fact, but a strong psychological and social intervention that guides the development of a young person. "It's a message saying that this is the right path for you," she said.
The expert in gender medicine said that many young people get the idea from social media that identifying as transgender will solve all their problems, but that it doesn’t work.
"A balance of the mind does not come from making others do and see what you want,” Kaltiala said.
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