Iceland adds third gender option and champions Trans rights

The Icelandic parliament has approved a landmark ruling that expands the rights of transgender people and legally recognises non-binary people.

The decision, an unanimous vote, to pass the major new identity law was introduced to parliament by the Prime Minister’s office. On Tuesday June 18, the parliament voted with 45 votes in favour, three abstentions and zero opposes.

Under the newly passed legislation, transgender people in Iceland are no longer subject to invasive and lengthy medical processes to have their gender legally recognised and to gain access to trans-specific healthcare.

Non-binary identifying people will also be able to change their legal gender at the national registry using the new third gender option of ‘X’.

Transgender activist and chair of Trans Iceland who helped write the legislation, Owl Fisher, told The Guardian that the new law “has the potential to make Iceland the world leader on LGBTI rights”.

“Iceland has just passed one of the most progressive laws on trans and intersex rights without any public conflict,” they said.

Fisher also pointed out that in the UK, proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) have
been met with opposition.

“While the proposed changes to the GRA have received a hostile reaction in the UK, the law in Iceland received support from groups including Amnesty International, children’s protection services and the Women’s Rights Organisation of Iceland,” said Fisher. 

“Unlike in the UK, the rights of trans people have never been framed as a threat to women’s rights, but are seen as a vital part of the movement,” they said.

However, many feel that the Icelandic intersex community has been left in the wake of this new bill because it lacks intersex protection. 

According to PinkNews, the intersex protections were supposed to forbid the practice of performing medically unnecessary surgery on children born with intersex traits.

However, a new special committee has been setup with the goal of 12 months to research a new law specifically for intersex children and adults.

“It’s a huge leap forward for trans people but intersex folks are being thrown under the bus, so celebrating feels a bit off,” said Alda Villiljós, a photographer and gender-queer activist.