Transgender and Transsexualism in Norway

In the western hemisphere there is a need to date all descriptions concerning diversities in genderland. Much change is taking place: new insights, new words, concepts, and contexts are constantly being inspired as others are being expired.

Norway has two organizations for transpeople. The oldest is FPE-NE which was founded in 1968 to meet the needs of "heterosexual transvestites." Today members of the FPE-NE form a continuum from classical parttime cross-dressing, through self-defined bigendered, to transgendered, to transsexuals. By 2002 FPE-NE had a membership of 142 individuals.

The younger organization is LFTS. It was founded in January 2000 on three main premises. The most urgent of these was the size of offers from the Norwegian State to transsexuals seeking gender-confirming surgery. The second was the willingness of some transsexuals to display themselves as transsexual women and men, thus generating the power to influence on most levels in society, including the arenas of politics and media. The third reason was the need for transsexuals to come into contact with other transsexuals and/or other transpeople, to generate a context where each could find friendships, insights, and addresses of approved therapists in the field. LFTS currently has a membership of 120 individuals. There is the option of a supportive membership with cheaper fees for parents, siblings of transpeople, and any others that might find such a membership meaningful. LFTS does receive economic support from the Norwegian State, but is not yet securely financed.

On the public scene, during the past years several transpeople have been extremely active in trans-advocacy. In part, this activism has been due to the founding of the LFTS. One of these individuals has actually been named the "Norwegian national trans-person," and her/his/hir (hir is a common genderless contraction of his and her) son has made a documentary entitled All about my Father which has won a number of prizes both internationally and nationally. Most notably, it won the Norwegian Amanda Prize for the best film of the year.

Through all this openness combined with persistent work by the LFTS and other transpeople, conditions, especially for transsexuals seeking surgery, have been greatly improved in the one hospital where such surgery is performed. The standards of the HBIGDA are followed at least to an acceptable degree, even though the most officially recognized therapists in the field are not members of the organization. The surgery and consequent convalescence are funded totally by the Norwegian State.

On the legal side, transsexuals in Norway have the right to a new birth certificate and social security number once genital surgery has been completed. Additionally, couples do not have to divorce if one partner undergoes complete hormonal and surgical treatment.

Overall, there is very little discrimination against transgendered persons in Norwegian society. People seem to have a great deal of respect for otherness. Employers are very supportive of transpeople crossing the boundary between the two gender majorities which still exists. Families are seeking advice from well-known therapists, who are themselves expressing gendered otherness, instead of rejecting their children and young adults. Presently, in some respects, Norway represents a society that lets its members explore the diversities of gender.

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