OSLO, July 6, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) - As June came to a close last month, the government of Norway proposed a bill that would allow seven-year-old children suffering from gender dysphoria to legally change their gender so long as they have parental support. According to Reuters, should this bill pass, it will represent "among the lowest ages in the world for transgender rights."
Prior to the proposal, transgender laws in Norway, which reflected most of Europe, stipulated that only adults 18 years or older who've had surgery could get their gender legally changed in a court of law, but the new law would allow minors from age seven to 16 to change their legal gender without surgery and without a psychiatric or medical evaluation. As long as parents consent, the child has free rein to change his gender as he pleases.
During the Oslo Pride festival, Health Minister Bent Høie celebrated the ruling as a victory for transgender rights in Europe.
"This is an important area where Norway has lagged far behind many other countries for many years," the Health Minister said. "Now we can be proud that we are implementing this law. The proposal is historic in that it will no longer be the health service but the individual who decides if he or she has changed sex."
Høie also that current transgender laws on the books requiring surgery were entirely unreasonable.
"I am clear that the present system is not acceptable," Høie said. "The system we have in Norway today in this area is very poorly conceived."
Though European transgender activists welcome the change, they still feel Norway and the rest of the continent could be doing more.
According to Richard Köhler of the Transgender Europe lobby group, the "gold standard" would be to have no formal age limit, meaning kids as young as two, three, or perhaps even one could have their gender legally changed.
Amnesty International has been hailing the proposal all the way back since April, calling it a "breakthrough for transgender rights." Patricia Kaatee of Amnesty Norway has been at the forefront of getting the bill passed, petitioning Høie to change the current laws on the grounds that people should be able to legally change their genders based on "one's own experience of gender identity, not a diagnosis or sterilization."
"It is a basic human right for people to express their own identity," Kaatee said, "even in official documents."