Transgender in Norway

Posted: torsdag 6 mars, 2008 by Tarald in My transition

Surfing around different trans-peoples’ blogs tonight, I realized that I was searching for information on how transitioning works in other countries. Exept the USA – on that there’s a lot of information. But how is it in the Netherlands? France? Russia? Finland?

Well, as usual I concluded that the only thing I could do was to start myself and hope that others would join. So this is what it’s like in Norway:

First of all; the SOC and DSM are being used. I guess they are elmost everywhere in Europe and North-America. But it seems different countries understand them differently. In the following I’ll focus of what I’ve understood to bethe differences between the american systemand the norwegian one.

I Norway, the social security covers nearly all the costs. (Instead of money, you pay with your soul, I use to say, half joking.)  We have one clinic for Gender Identity Disorde, in Oslo. They state that you can’t get diagnosis or treatment anywhere else. I discussed this with my independent shrink today, and he said this was wrong. I’m really not sure. Anyway you’ll need a letter from a shrink and your doctor to get appointment there. None ever read those letters, or any of your other paperwork.

Any doctor outside the GID-clinic who will diagnose or treat transsexuals, would clearly get in trouble with the GID-clinic.

The councelling and real life test takes minimum one year. The GID-clinic has no deadlines, apparently. I’ve been in that limbo for one and a half year. It means total insecurity about one’s future, and I find that aspect the hardest.

In Sweden transsexuals are being tested for almost anything, both mentally and physically. So far (and I’ve been promised they’ll have the «Endlösung» ready for me before 7. of april) I’ve not been through any physical testing.

In Sweden they have trans-teams in several places, with variable standards, I’m told. In Denmark the system resembles our’s, but they are even more rigid and humiliating.

On the positive side, we’ve got a new law of names in 2003, which allowes so-called sex-contrary names. It’s really very liberal.

The GID-clinic has a monopoly on treatment (according to them at least). After getting the diagnosis, getting a normal BMI (body mass index not overweight) and quit smoking, you can get testosterone. As I understand, estrogen and anti-androgen can be administered on an earlier  stage. Then you must wait a year for the breasts to shrink. At this point, minimum two years after initial contact with the clinic, they’ll put you on a waiting list for chest-surgery. That means another 9 months waiting (last I heard). Sometimes people get their internal organs removed somewhere in the waiting period, I’ve heard recently. And still the genital reassignment surgery is in the blue at this point.

If you are rejected, you have no options left according to the GID-clinic. As far as I know, they have no idea how many people kill themselves after a message like that. And they don’t care. My impression is that the staff at the GID-clinic is mainly there to ensure that no poor, innocent cis-gender person ends up as trans and regretting it.

Reasons for turning people down are psychosis and «genderidentity disorders others than transsexualism». They have been getting stricter on the latter lately. According to them, it only exists two genders and two sexes. Ergo is everyone else dellusional.

I’m not certain that I’ll get my diagnosis, because

  1. I’m late onset and had my 30. birthday last december. Im too old.
  2. I have a daughter. Transsexuals should not have kids – I guess they liked us all to be virgins.
  3. I’m gay. This ruins their nice, shiny heteronormative picture they try to present of us as a group.

The only association for transsexuals in Norway follow the GID-clinic on all of this. In addition they use every opportunity to distance themselves from the gay community. The organisation was founded less than 10 years ago, but they’ve already changed it’s name once, and plan on doing it again this year.

This became somewhat of a rant. I guess it needed to get out. I just hope they are to busy at the clinic to read this 😉

So how is it elsewhere? Let it out you too, folks!

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Kommentarer
  1. […] 6, 2008 by Suvi Encouraged by this blog entry by Tarald, I decided to write how the transgender diagnosing is done here in […]

  2. genderoutlaw sier:

    Hello Tarald,

    I’m a little surprised… with everything I have heard about the great social systems over there, it seems like they really make you jump through some hoops!

    Here in Canada, I know several people who have gone on T after just one appointment with a therapist. I even know of one guy who simply went to his family doctor and got the prescription, with no therapy. I got a the psychological approval for T and top surgery in two appointments. (I would have been happy to go more than twice, I quite liked talking it all out, but she didn’t really think I needed to see her.) I paid out of pocket for the therapy, and I’m also paying for my top surgery, but plenty of guys get top surgery covered by the medicare system here, though you’re on a waiting list for at least a year, I hear.

    The strict stance about two genders and two sexes is unfortunate, to say the least. Humans are so much more colorful than this!

  3. Tarald Stein sier:

    Wow! One or two appointments and the possibility of getting it covered? You are the lucky ones.
    We are used to think that not having to pay ourselves is so great, but lately I’m not sure about that any more. Feels like I’m paying out of my soul instead of my pocket.
    I’ve thought a lot about how we need transsexualism to remain a diagnosis to get treatment for free. It’s connected to this post, but I’ll make a new one about it later.
    I like talking to a therapist too, but use my independent one for that. I’d have to pay out of my pocket for it, if he didn’t happen to work at the student’s healthcare center. He’s great! I want to share a little of our conversation this week:

    Him: Don’t take this the wrong way, but you seem to overreact, maximizing the crisis.
    Me: Yes, I know. I’m quite good at that. And I get so much good help to do that at the GID-clinic.
    Him: That’s true.

  4. genderoutlaw sier:

    I was diagnosed with GID when I was 5 years old. When I learned about this at 17 years old, I thought it was funny that I was considered to have a «disorder» for acting like a boy and wearing boys underwear. I was still unclear on this when I went to see my therapist for the first time and she explained to me that for many guys it IS a disorder, in the sense that it causes much anxiety, and that many are not able to function at 100% because of this. My view on the term disorder has changed as a result of this conversion, and like you, I also think that we need it to be classified as a medical issue in order for there to be access to treatment, so that this access isn’t based on one’s income.

  5. Neo sier:

    Hello Tarald, I realise that I’m very late with my comment, but if you read this, could you tell if anything has changed by now concerning acceptance a/o medical treatment of transfolks (e.g. also for normal emergency treatment like a broken leg? Could you be rejected by a hospital? Do you perhaps know of people who have reported discrimination at the hands of medical personel?) I’m asking, because I’m a *man/transman (or whatever word you prefer) from Germany and in the near future I may have the opportunity for a study/workplace in Norway. I already fullfilled all the requirements for T/SRS in my country, my name is legally changed, but I still need the final surgery. My question is, will there be any trouble (e.g. at airports) since I’m packing and carry the T (incl. injection devices) with me? I endured everything in my own country already I don’t want to go through it again. Thanks.

    • Tarald sier:

      Hello Neo,
      Disappointingly little has changed. There is some hope for next year though, as the Minister of Health has promised to get rid of the forced sterilisation. It feels like I’ve waited so long that I won’t believe it before I see an M in my passport.
      You won’t be rejected at a hospital for non-trans-related issues, even if your papers don’t match (but you may be pressured into spelling it out for them). It would always help with a letter from your doctor (something like «Neo is transgender female to male and is on testosterone. This is why his ID don’t match his gender presentation.») This is always useful to bring along when crossing borders and meeting authorities. Packing will probably not be a problem at airports. You’d need a separate letter about bringing testosterone and injection needles, but then it will most likely be fine.
      It is possible to get prescribed testosterone from doctors in Norway, especially when you are already on it. Not all doctors will do it, but you could either win them over or find a more trans friendly doctor, at least in the larger cities. The only injectable testosterone available is Nebido.
      Good luck and welcome to Norway!

  6. Shakku sier:

    Hello Tarad,
    I just moved in to Norway in January and found out that I’m a trans female even more recently. From what I read online, the system is likely not to have changed, and I don’t know how I could cope with it «the official way» as I’m both a foreginer -despite being an European citizen- and lesbian. I’m living in Oslo and I would like to know if there is any insight you might give me about finding trans friendly doctors or community? I looked for forums and such but as I don’t speak Norwegian, this proves somewhat difficult. I’m already 24 and I feel that I’m up against the clock if I ever want to have a natural growth, especially given the Norwegian time frame. I mean, waiting 1-2 years and getting through psych diagnosis -hate the term- maybe (well, almost certainly) to hear that I won’t get any hormones? No way.

    I’d gladly take any info about trans friendly professionals or «side» solutions as I feel quite desperate at the moment.

    Hope you’ll read this! Cheers,

    Shakku

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