In a study conducted among five European countries, Sweden ranks the lowest in making its transgender citizens feel secure in getting necessary healthcare.
According to a post by the website MySoCalledGayLife on October 10, the study was a survey of the current state of healthcare being provided to transgender individuals living in Georgia, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Sweden.
It found that 39% Swedish transgender respondents reported to have bad health compared to 26% in Poland, 3% in Serbia, and 2% in Spain.
Of those who reported to have bad health, 5% of them specifically described that their health was poor, placing them in a worse condition than the rest of the country’s population and worse than the transgender among the participating countries.
An interview of a participant, whose identity was kept anonymous, reads, “Above all, new, younger specialist physicians and psychologists are required that they are suitable for both binary and non-binary persons. I would also appreciate if the healthcare was just about one’s gender identity and left out questions about how to have sex or masturbation. It is insane and has nothing to do with gender identity. That’s what I call abusive treatment.”
Transgender patients also said that they were not prioritized or that the care they received did not meet their specific transgender needs.
For instance, a participant shared, “A midwife wondered how transgenders could voluntarily mutilate our bodies and a doctor wanted to know how my genitals looked when I sought help for iron malnutrition.”
Sweden also comes in last in terms of awareness about transgender-friendly institutions with only 27% of them knowing them while the percentage of those who know in other countries were higher.
They also reported to have faced discrimination in healthcare because of their gender identity and were at times denied of medical attention, ill-treated, ridiculed and deliberately misguided.
The realities provided by the respondents in the study stand in contrast with the standing of Sweden in terms of protecting transgender rights.
For example, the country was recognized as the first in the world in establishing a law on gender recognition. Over the years, it has since removed stringent requirements of sterilisation and divorce for applicants to be granted legal gender recognition.
While the Swedish law does not demand diagnosis, in practice it requires a diagnosis for transsexualism and positive statement from a gender identity clinic so that transgender people are allowed to change their gender markers in official documents.
In 2015, new guidelines for trans healthcare clinics were adopted for adults and children clarifying, among other things, on how to best provide care for individuals suffering gender dysphoria, a medical condition where an individual suffers distress for being assigned a gender at birth that does not match the gender they identified with.
The study with the title Overdiagnosed but Under Served was participated by 885 healthcare users and 888 healthcare providers and was made possible through the non-government organization Transgender Europe together with other partner groups including Women’s Initiative Supportive Group (WISG), Trans-Fuzja, Daniela Fundación, Gayten LGBT, and the Riksförbundet.
Transgender Europe said that the countries were selected for the study due to their geographical and cultural disparities.