Finnish LGBTIQ+ rights organisations Seta and Trasek to appear at the United Nations Committee Against Torture 59th session: the treatment of trans and intersex people in Finland is cruel, inhuman and degrading

Finnish LGBTIQ+ rights organisations Seta and Trasek to appear at the United Nations Committee Against Torture 59th session: the treatment of trans and intersex people in Finland is cruel, inhuman and degrading

Seta and Trasek demand that the unnecessary and harmful cosmetic surgery done to intersex children is stopped immediately and that the Finnish Trans act is readily reformed to respect the right to self-determination.

The UN Committee Against Torture will review Finland and the realization of its human rights in November. A hearing with NGOs will be held in order to get a precise picture of how Finland ensures the human rights obligations set by the UN convention, where torture and other inhuman treatment is prohibited. Seta and Trasek, who delivered a report on the treatment of trans and intersex people, sends two participants to the session in Geneva November 8th. Amnesty International Finland will also appear in the hearing, and supports the demands presented by Seta and Trasek.

The alarming state of trans youth and the harsh demands of the trans act

A full reform of the trans act, a topic that has sparked intense debate in Finland for years, is one of the central demands of the NGOs, who want a trans act that is based on autonomy and self-determination.

“The current trans act in Finland doesn’t respect the most central human rights. It is simply cruel and inhuman to submit trans people to forced sterilization and years of psychiatric monitoring. To force someone into medical monitoring and have them undergo procedures in order for them to be able to change their name and have their gender legally recognized is humiliating. The trans act needs to be renewed so that it respects the right to self-determination”, says Kasper Kivistö, one of two NGO representatives in Geneva (on the left in the photo).

According to the NGOs, Finland should focus more on the alarming state that the trans youth is in.

“According to studies every second trans youth has to face physical violence, and discrimination and non-physical violence is even more common. Discrimination leads to serious consequences. More than every other trans youth has thought of self-harm and suicide”, says Panda Eriksson, who will attend the Geneva hearing with Kivistö.

“It is regrettably common that teachers, health care staff and parents try to minimize or deny a young trans person’s gender, or feel negatively about their gender identity. This needs to end. Trans youth need psychological and social support. The right to have your name and legal gender marker changed must be secured for adults and youth alike”, says Seta´s Secretary General Kerttu Tarjamo.

The unnecessary surgical treatment of intersex children needs to end

The NGOs also demand that Finland ends the so called “normalizing” surgeries on intersex children, who might not be more than babies or toddlers when they have to undergo genital surgery. Surgery is done on the outer genitalia to have the child’s body fit the ideal that dictates what a boy or a girl body should look like – even when the genitalia are completely functional.

“Intersexualism is part of the multitude found in nature and in gender. It’s not a problem that should be solved with a knife. The unnecessary operations done on children are a grave insult to their physical immunity and often result in problems such as loss of feeling in the genital area or chronic pain. These surgeries have to end immediately. Hormonal treatment, which is used to “steer” the development of gendered characteristics, has to change so that it’s only used with the informed consent and collaboration of the individual in question. A system that operates from above, dictating what a child’s gender should be and how they should experience their own body and their condition, is a human rights problem in every way”, says Terhi Viikki from Trasek.

The UN Committee Against Torture will review the Finnish situation based on reports delivered by the government and by NGOs, as well as by the hearings organized in Geneva. The committee will present the Finnish government with recommendations on the development of human rights within 1-2 months after the hearing.

For further information or interview requests:

Seta’s and Trasek’s report can be found and read: http://seta.fi/cat-2016/

The UN page that features all the documents related to the reviewing of Finland:
http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/TreatyBodyExternal/Countries.aspx?CountryCode=FIN&Lang=EN

 

Kerttu Tarjamo
p. +358 50 309 8108
paasihteeri@seta.fi

Panda Eriksson
panda@trasek.fi

Kasper Kivistö
kasper@trasek.fi

Foto: Panda Eriksson (left side) and Kasper Kivistö. Foto Sonja Siikanen.

Trans people are transgender people and non-binary people, among others. Being trans means your gender doesn’t correlate with the gender you were assigned at birth.

Intersexualism refers to a congenital condition where the anatomical or physical features of the body that are usually gendered aren’t unambiguously typically male or typically female.

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