For several days, veteran Swedish journalist Malu von Sievers will be covering the same theme in every episode of her late-night television broadcast: an extraordinary rise in diagnoses of sexual dysphoria among teenage girls.
The immediate trigger for the von Sievers theme week was a report from the Swedish Health and Welfare Board, which confirmed a 1,500% increase between 2008 and 2018 in diagnosing gender dysphoria among children aged 13 to 17 born to girls.
Just a year ago, there seemed to be few formal obstacles left in the way of adolescents seeking gender reassignment. In the fall of 2018, the Social Democratic government, under pressure from gays, lesbians and the RFSL transgender group, proposed a new law that would lower the minimum age for gender reassignment. gender reassignment care from 18 to 15 years old will remove the need for parental consent and allow children under 12 years old to change their legal gender.
Then in March last year, the backlash began. Christopher Gillberg, a psychiatrist at the Gothenburg Academy of Salgrensk, wrote an article in the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper warning that hormonal treatment and surgery on children is a "big experiment" that could be one of the worst medical scandals in the country.
In April, investigative television program Uppdrag Granskning filmed a documentary about former trans man Sametti, who regretted his irreversible conversion.
In October, the program was launched by the team at Stockholm University Karolinska Hospital, which specializes in treating minors with gender dysphoria. The unit has been criticized for performing double mastectomy in children as young as 14 years old and accused of rushing through treatment and failing to properly consider whether other psychiatric or developmental problems might better explain their misery with their body. Karolinska dismissed the claims, saying she carefully evaluates each case.
At the same time, Filter magazine spoke about the case of Jennifer Ring, a 32-year-old trans woman who hanged herself four years after surgery. The psychosis expert her father, Avi Ring, showed her medical journal to, said she showed clear signs of psychosis at the time she first sought treatment for sexual dysphoria.
Indeed, the first clinic she went to refused to treat her, citing signs of schizotypal symptoms and no history of sexual dysphoria. But the team in Karolinsk went ahead. “They don't stop anyone; almost 100% of applicants receive a gender reassignment,”says Ring.
The Swedish authorities are starting to react. Shortly before a bill that would lower the minimum age for gender reassignment was due for debate in parliament in September, it was shelved and the Health and Welfare Board was asked to review the evidence. The report is due on March 31st.