Assessing Norway’s Gender Recognition Act of 2016: Analysing personal experiences of legal gender change


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In July 2016, a Gender Recognition Act (GRA) was implemented in Norway which allows one to change legal gender (male/female) without the previously required sterilisation. Though this move by the Norwegian state has been widely celebrated by trans rights advocates for its progressive approach to gender recognition, the Act’s limitation to the male/female binary and the lack of concurrent improvement in trans-specific medical access raise concerns about how far-reaching and transformative it actually is. Given the diversity of trans experiences and identities, this article seeks to address the following question: in what ways is the Act on gender recognition capable of empowering those who change legal gender, and in what ways can it prove limiting or detrimental? To answer this, I conducted interviews with twelve individuals who changed their legal gender soon after the Act’s implementation. Applying Thematic Analysis to the interviews, I uncover and analyse moments of empowerment and disempowerment in order to explore the potential of legal gender recognition to shape one’s personhood and citizenship in the Norwegian context.


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