RFSL’s views on gender-affirming care


RFSL's starting point is that the young trans people who need care should receive it without the legislation standing in the way of, in some cases, vital care. The task of the assessment teams is to investigate who suffers from gender dysphoria, and for which people various forms of gender-affirming care are the right way to treat that suffering.

It is always up to the healthcare provider to comply with the Health Care Act, i.e. to provide care that is based on research and proven experience. RFSL believes that doctors with specialist competence in trans care, in dialogue with the care-seeker themselves, should decide what care that person needs and be able to provide it.

Trans people, and especially young trans people, have worse mental health and a greater risk of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts than the rest of the population. The Public Health Agency highlights in its report on the health of transgender people that transgender people’s experience of discrimination and poor treatment leads to increased ill health in the group. Many trans people also feel bad while waiting for gender-affirming care. Equal access to gender-affirming care for those who need it, regardless of where you live in the country, is necessary to reduce suffering. The queues for care and the gender assessment teams’ lack of resources are a big problem.

The number of people seeking gender-affirming care is increasing throughout the Western world, both among younger and older people. Why this is so, there is no reliable research to show us, but it could be, among other things, increased knowledge that trans care exists and that society has become more open to different identities. The number of people seeking gender-affirming care is still very small compared to the population as a whole.

Gender-affirming care is care given specifically for gender dysphoria to reduce the specific suffering that occurs when the body does not match the gender you were assigned at birth. Whether or not a person suffers from gender dysphoria is determined by a multidisciplinary assessment team over a long period of time. If the person simultaneously suffers from mental illness, it needs to be treated in parallel. However, there are different types of care and the responsibility lies with different care providers.

Research shows that an overwhelming majority of people who have undergone gender-affirming treatment find that the treatment reduces gender dysphoria, but more research is needed. More research is also needed into why the number of people seeking gender-affirming care is increasing, and about the people who regret their treatment in order to avoid such mistreatment in the future.

If a person sought care, stood in a queue, was investigated, received a diagnosis and treatment, and then regrets it, it is of course extremely sad. Every single person who receives the wrong care is one person too many. People who have regretted their gender-affirming care are welcome to contact RFSL for support or to share their particular story, among other things we have a support email for people with trans experience.

RFSL wants everyone to be able to live their lives as they want, in accordance with their own identity, and to be treated respectfully. In order for this to be possible, gender-affirming care needs to continue to improve to ensure that everyone who needs gender-affirmation care receives it and that there are no wrong treatments.