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Living Up To The Image: Iceland And LGBTI Rights

Living Up To The Image: Iceland And LGBTI Rights

Photos by
Sharon Kilgannon

Published October 9, 2018

In a country that often prides itself of being so liberal, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking it’s a bit of a paradise for LGBTI people. But the picture isn’t quite as pretty if you look into the details.

According to the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Map Index which maps the legal rights of LGBTI people in Europe, Iceland ranks at a mediocre 52%, or in 16th place. We have no legal framework around LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees, we don’t address hate speech and discrimination towards LGBTI people very well through law, trans people are still pathologised and the rights of intersex people are non-existent.

The fundamental problem we have as a society is is our pathological obsession with dividing people into two distinct categories based on their sex characteristics. Our obsession is so bad that we’d rather cut up intersex infants to normalise them instead of accepting that perhaps bodies that fall outside our rudimentary understanding of the terms “male” and “female” might just be okay.

We force trans people to prove to complete strangers that they aren’t just faking it—and make them go through some wild gender performative circus where trans women are given “lady-training” and asked what underwear they like to wear and where trans men are told to stop knitting because it’s not a “manly hobby.” There is little room for non-binary people, and don’t even get me started with our archaic “name committee” and binary-ridden language. Adopting a gender-neutral pronoun might as well be asking people to sacrifice their first born to the hidden elf people in order to swear their eternal allegiance to the cause.

New legislation about trans and intersex rights is on horizon in the Icelandic parliament and if we as a society really want to live up to this image we have created, we need make sure it goes through. Not only would it solve some issues for trans and intersex people, but we as a society will benefit from breaking away from the oppressive gender binary we constantly enforce, that continues to uphold gender inequality in every corner of our society.


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