Sweden Makes It Legal for Anyone to Change Their Gender at 16 Instead of 18

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Sweden has recently approved a law that reduces the minimum age for legally changing one’s gender. This legislative move aligns Sweden with countries like Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Spain, which have already adopted similar frameworks.

New Age Limits for Gender Change in Sweden


The decision was made during a legislative session last Thursday, with a vote count of 234 in favor and 94 against, while 21 either abstained or did not participate. 

Easier Gender Transition Process Starting 2025


Starting in July 2025, individuals as young as 16 will be able to legally change their gender, lowering the previous age requirement from 18. 

Additionally, the law simplifies the process for diagnosing gender dysphoria to just a brief consultation with a healthcare professional and approval from the National Board of Health and Welfare. 

Who Qualifies for Gender-Affirming Surgery?


Separately, while the new legislation disentangles legal gender changes from gender-affirming surgeries, such surgeries will still require a more extensive evaluation and remain restricted to those aged 18 and older, with certain procedures only available to individuals over 23.

Requirements for Minors Changing Gender

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Individuals under 16 who wish to change their legal gender on government documents now need the consent of a parent or guardian, in addition to approvals from a doctor and the National Board of Health and Welfare. 

Debate Heats Up 


This development is part of a broader legislative change in a country that pioneered legal gender reassignment back in 1972. 

The recent update aims to facilitate self-identification and streamline the process, though it has ignited a heated debate nationwide.

Political Divide Over Gender Change Law

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The legislative environment has revealed divisions within the ruling center-right coalition led by Conservative Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. 

While Kristersson’s Moderates and the Liberals have backed the legislation, the Christian Democrats have voiced opposition, as have the Sweden Democrats—a populist party with far-right origins that supports the government but is not part of it.

A Subtle But Significant Change

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Johan Hultberg, a member of parliament from the Moderate party, emphasized that while the majority of Swedes might not notice the change, it represents a significant improvement for many in the transgender community. 

Reducing the Wait 


The legislation also seeks to address the lengthy process currently required to change one’s legal gender in Sweden, which can extend up to seven years, as noted by Peter Sidlund Ponkala, president of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Rights (RFSL).

New Gender and Surgery Laws in 2025


On July 1, 2025, Sweden will implement two significant laws: one will oversee surgical procedures for gender transition, and the other will manage the administrative changes needed for altering legal gender in the national registry. 

Abolishing ‘Gender Dysphoria’ Diagnosis Requirement


Notably, these new regulations eliminate the requirement for a “gender dysphoria” diagnosis, which is traditionally needed when individuals feel distress due to a discrepancy between their biological sex and their gender identity.

New Transgender Policies in Europe


Germany also recently passed legislation that simplifies the process for transgender, intersex, and non-binary individuals to amend their names and genders in official records. 

Meanwhile, in the UK, a notable development occurred when the Scottish parliament passed a bill in 2022 allowing self-declaration for gender changes on identity documents for those 16 and older, although this was later blocked by the British government.

Restrictions on Hormone Therapy and Surgery 


In the context of broader gender identity policies, Sweden has adopted a cautious approach, especially concerning minors. In 2022, Swedish authorities restricted hormone therapy for minors to exceptional cases and confined mastectomy procedures for teenage girls seeking to transition to research settings only. 

The Dramatic Rise in Gender Dysphoria


This cautious stance comes amidst a dramatic increase in gender dysphoria cases among teenagers, particularly among those born female, with a reported 1,500% rise since 2008.

Gender Law Sparks National Debate

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The introduction of these laws has not been without controversy. The debate is highly polarized across Sweden’s political spectrum, and a recent poll indicates that nearly 60% of Swedes oppose the new measures, with only 22% in favor. 

The issue has sparked extensive debates in parliament, reflecting the strong emotions and divided opinions surrounding this transformative legislation.

Sweden’s Global Ranking in LGBTQ+ Support


According to Equaldex, a human rights aggregator focusing on LGBTQ+ issues, Sweden ranks as the 18th most supportive country out of 197 for queer individuals. This positioning highlights Sweden as a leader in LGBTQ+ rights on a global scale. 

However, despite its progressive stance, Sweden still faces significant challenges in its approach to LGBTQ+ rights. 

Ongoing LGBTQ+ Rights Struggles


Notably, the country has yet to ban conversion therapy—a controversial practice aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, Sweden imposes deferral periods for blood donations from members of the LGBTQ+ community, a policy that has been criticized for perpetuating stigma and inequality. 

These issues underscore the ongoing struggles within a nation generally celebrated for its support of LGBTQ+ rights.

Kate Smith, a self-proclaimed word nerd who relishes the power of language to inform, entertain, and inspire. Kate's passion for sharing knowledge and sparking meaningful conversations fuels her every word.