Children as young as seven would be allowed to change their legal gender under a bill proposed by Norway’s government on Thursday, bringing it one of the lowest ages for transgender rights anywhere in the world.
“This is an important area where Norway has lagged far behind many other countries for many years,” Health Minister Bent Høie said as he announced the plan during the Oslo Pride festival. “Now we can be proud that we are implementing this law.”
According to the Norwegian Health Ministry, most European countries only allow citizens to change the gender assigned to them at birth after they turn 18.
However, Richard Köhler, of the Transgender Europe lobby group, told Reuters that the “gold standard” was to have no formal limit, as in Malta.
“Generally it is very good to allow very young transpersons to have their gender identity respected,” he said.
Until April this year, Norway insisted that those seeking to change their legal gender undergo surgery, a practice which transgender activists argued was a violation of human rights.
According to Høie, children between seven and 16 would need to consult with their parents before changing their legal gender, after which they would be able to decide for themselves, without the need for a psychiatric or medical evaluation.
They would then be able to reverse the decision to change gender at will.
“The proposal is historic in that it will no longer be the health service but the individual who decides if he or she has changed sex,” Hoie said in a statement on the plan.