Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Sweden: Court Says Previous Sex Change Not a Bar to Second Change of Legal Gender Identity

(Oct. 11, 2017) On August 28, 2017, the Stockholm Court of Administrative Appeal found that a woman who was born male has the right to change her legal identity back to that of a man, even though she has female genitalia. The woman had undergone gender transformative surgery and sterilization in 2011, whereupon she became both physically and legally a woman.  The woman who now receives testosterone treatment but still has physical female attributes turned to the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) to change her legal identity back to male.  She pointed out that she takes testosterone and, when dressed, looks like a male.  (Case No.  3488-17, Kammarrätten i Stockholm [Administrative Court of Appeals Stockholm], Aug. 28, 2017 (copy on file with author).)

The test for changing one’s legal gender identity is listed in the Gender Identification Act.  It provides that four prerequisites must be met to change one’s legal identity to that of a male:

1) the person feels that he belongs to the male sex;

2) for some time the person has been acting in accordance with a male gender identity;

3) the person can be presumed to continue to live in accordance with a male gender identity in the future; and

4) the person has attained the age of 18.  (1 § Lagen om fastställande av könstillhörighet i vissa fall  [Act on of Determination of Gender Identity in Certain Cases] (The Gender Identification Act)] (Svensk författningssamling [SFS] 1972:119), NOTISUM.)

The National Board of Health and Welfare and the administrative district court had denied the petition, arguing that because of the applicant’s previous sex change from male to female, it could not be presumed that the applicant would continue to live as a male in the future.  (Case No. 4505-17, Förvaltningsrätten i Stockholms [Administrative District Court Stockholm], May 23, 2017 (copy on file with author).) The Administrative Court of Appeal now has given the applicant the right to change gender identity and found that the requirements for changing legal identity to that of a male had been fulfilled.  The Court went on to conclude that the mere fact that the person had previously changed from man to woman was not in itself an indication that the male identity would not be maintained in the future.  (Case No. 3488-17, at 8.)

Dagens Juridik reported on a similar case last year, in which a transgender woman wanted her legal status to be changed to that of a man, and the National Board of Health and Welfare had found that previous ambivalence regarding the applicant’s gender should function as a bar against additional change.  In that case, the Administrative District Court in Stockholm found that the person had displayed male gender identification for a sufficiently long time and for a sufficiently stable period, so that ambivalence could not be weighed as a factor in the case.  (Får ny könstillhörighet trots tidigare ambivalens – Socialstyrelsen förlorar [New Gender Status Despite Past Ambivalence: The National Board of Health and Welfare Loses], DAGENS JURIDIK (Aug. 29, 2016).)