A couple weeks ago, I publicly came out as trans and non-binary. The journey to this point began in my early childhood, followed some dark and foggy paths through my teens and young adult years, but was recently given a guiding light by the vast wealth of scientific information and research that is now more readily available than ever. My name has changed, and so will my appearance, in part due to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
I’ve received a considerable outpouring of support; from people who knew, from people who didn’t know, from members of my family, and my co-workers. Some people asked me if I was nervous about the reaction I would get. To be honest, my biggest fear about transitioning has everything to do with the woefully outdated process trans and non-binary people are subjected to in Iceland if they choose to transition.
First off, “non-binary” is not recognised by the law or by the health care system in Iceland, so if you want to transition, you’ll have to pick “male” or “female.” You will have to “live as” one of these genders, in particular as a part of your presentation, for at least six months and up to 18 months or longer while enduring a series of invasive questions about the underwear you wear, what sexual positions you enjoy, and the like.
None of which, by the way, has anything to do with gender. Trans folks are already “living as” their gender, regardless of what they wear and how they have sex—just like cis folks.
All this must happen not only before you can access HRT; these are pre-conditions for changing your registered gender (again, only “male” or “female”) or even your legal name—a name, by the way, that must meet the legal requirements for “male” and “female” names. And if you’re not an Icelandic citizen, tough luck; you’ll need to get your name and gender registered correctly in your home country first before Iceland will recognise it.
This matters not just because things are far more progressive in other countries, and not just because Iceland discriminates based on nationality in yet another area.
Our genders, our hormones, our names—none of these things should be a matter of bureaucratic pleading and gatekeeping. They are elements of our identities, they belong to us, and maybe someday, the law might actually reflect that.