During nightly news last night, health care minister Sophie Løhde pledged on national radio to push for WHO to remove “Transsexualism” from their list of psychiatric disorders and further guaranteed that she will work toward removing the diagnosis from the Danish system by January 1st.
After months of pressure from Amnesty International Denmark and a majority coalition of other political parties represented in parliament, she has finally taken a stand on the issue and says:
“I am working to have this changed in WHO. I expect results this coming spring.”
“If I don’t succeed with WHO then I am ready to change the Danish system without WHO by other means and have it fixed by January 1st, 2017.”
In response, Amnesty International Denmark and Copenhagen Pride have made press releases urging the health minister to make haste and change the system as soon as possible.
“This sends an important message that we support. But we urge the minister of health to make Denmark a leading country and remove the diagnosis without delay. That would be the most effective way to get the process with WHO going and send a strong message to the rest of the world. Also, there is the possibility of approving the presently available motion in parliament to remove the diagnosis”, says campaign leader Helle Jacobsen from Amnesty.
Copenhagen Pride’s chairperson, Lars Henriksen, comments, “If we may draw any conclusions from the Idahot Forum in Copenhagen it is that change requires political will and bravery. We encourage the Minister of Health to show political will in this case. There is no reasonable argument to wait when the will to act is present.”
Killjoy.dk wishes to add that the forum, hosted this year by the Danish government, was titled The IDAHO Forum though the subtitle included bisexual and transgender people. Copenhagen Pride will hold an event this Saturday, 14 May to discuss the situation for transgender people in Denmark in connection with IDAHOT.
Spokespersons for transgender interest organisation Transpolitisk Forum comments on this development: “Sophie Løhde’s statement seems positive and it’s great to see that she’s taking this seriously and seems like she’s willing to make some changes for transgender people in Denmark. But we have two major concerns about her statement: Firstly, are we afraid that this is just an act of political spin, because this statement means that the politicians now have a reason to reject the existing proposal, which is for vote on June 3rd.
Secondly; there’s a long way from getting transgendered people off the disease list to what we in Transpolitisk Forum see as our main goal: Informed consent. Our concern is that this statement is making it look like everything concerning the treatment of transgendered people is fine now, and that we don’t need anything else to get the right treatment – and that Denmark did a great job on this area - but without actually changing the treatment. To get off the disease list doesn’t necessarily mean that the treatment is getting better – it just looks like that on the paper. We can risk that the same will happen as it did in 2014, where the government gave us easier access to changing our national identity number when at the same time they tightened the possibilities for medical treatment.”
In a statement released publically in the afternoon, AIDS-fondet echoes both the positive remarks and concerns shared by Amnesty. The organisation, which has recently begun to offer counselling for trans people, adds that equal medical treatment remains to be achieved:
“AIDS-Fondet encourages the Minister of Health to also consider ensuring trans people’s access to gender confirming treatment when trans people are removed from the psychiatric list. We know, from a range of national and international surveys, that access to gender confirming treatment is central to trans people’s opportunities, wellbeing and health.
AIDS-Fondet supports a re-structuring of gender confirming treatment for trans people that ceases to pathologize and stigmatise trans people and where treatment through the public health care system is guaranteed. We believe that such an offer, which is available for all other patient groups in the health care system, must be available in multiple places across the country, must center on respect for the individual’s right to bodily autonomy and freedom to self identify and must actively include the individual trans person’s perspectives about and wishes for treatment.”