Swedish transsexuals seek damages after sterilizations


Sweden is often hailed as a progressive society promoting equality for all, but transsexuals who had to accept sterilization to complete their sex change operations are pushing for compensation after a change in the law.

Nova Colliander, a 31-year-old who completed her transformation from man to woman in 2010, said she suffered discrimination when she was irreversibly sterilized as part of the sex-change process.

Until last year, the operation was obligatory for transsexuals who wanted their sex change to be officially recognized by authorities, with their personal identity documents reflecting their new gender.

But in December, a Swedish court ruled that the practice of forced sterilizations, which dated back to a 1972 law on sexual identity, was unconstitutional and violated the European Convention on Human Rights.

“We didn’t have the right to become parents, we didn’t have the right to freeze our eggs or our sperm,” said Love Elfvelin, a 22-year-old who recently had a double mastectomy to become a man but who will not have to undergo sterilization to complete the sex change.

Elfvelin, who is in the process of changing his identity documents to show that he is now a man, is one of the first transsexuals in Sweden who does not need to be sterilized to do so.

And he is ready to take another pioneering step, although he is not sure he will succeed. “I think I’ll be able to have my own biological children,” he said.

The first step will be to retrieve some of his eggs.

“But first I’ll have to stop taking my testosterone. Nobody knows how long I would have to stop for, and if my eggs are fertile” after taking testosterone for three years, he said.

The couple would need a sperm donor, and then the embryo would be inseminated into Elfvelin’s partner.

But since the egg is not his partner’s and the sperm is not his, the insemination would be considered an embryo donation, which is banned in Sweden.

“With activism and politics we plan to try to get the law on embryo donation changed,” Elfvelin said of his next battle.

  • ingrid tavistock

    I thoroughly enjoyed this story, though I didn’t believe a word of it.