Icelandic Trans Woman Comes Forward On Sexual Assaults And The Culture Of Objectification Of Trans Women

Icelandic Trans Woman Comes Forward On Sexual Assaults And The Culture Of Objectification Of Trans Women

Published December 13, 2021

Photo by
Foreign and Commonwealth Office/Creative Commons

A trans woman in Iceland has come forward on two horrific sexual assaults she has experienced in this year alone. She points out what many trans women in Iceland, and elsewhere in the world, have personally attested to: that in this country and further, there is a culture of objectification of trans women that contributes to their vulnerability, wherein would-be attackers feel they are entitled to abuse trans women.

This first incident Björk Lárusdóttir describes happened in late July, when she met a man on a dating app. Their communications went well, with nothing indicating that there was anything amiss. Things took a darker turn after she invited him to her home.

“He came over and I had barely shut the door when he attacked me,” she says. “He hit me, choked me, and assaulted me. The worst of this were the words he used. I’m not going to use the same words he used but he said shut up, you know you deserve it… and yes, then followed an ugly word.”

Björk says that she realised the seriousness of the incident and wanted to talk to her attacker, but he disappeared, and was impossible to find.

The second incident in question happened last August, her attacker being a man she briefly dated last year and decided to end things with. He did not take this well, and broke into her home in the middle of the month. Over the course of six hours, she fought him off, and he at last gave up, enraged and cursing.

Objectification leads to abuse

“An example of this objectification came up here, because I’m a trans woman,” she said. “He said, if you tell anyone that we were ever together, I’ll kill you. I never want to be associated with a woman like you.”

“This little, cute, pretty, innocent Iceland is just not so innocent. This is a bit underground and needs a light shined on it. There is so much wrong with this and is never discussed.”

These incidents devastated her, and she filed charges against the second man to attack her, but has heard no updates on the case and has little faith that anything will come of it.

Björk points out to Stöð 2 news what many trans women around the world have attested to; that there exists in Iceland, as elsewhere, a rape culture that views trans women as some kind of fetish.

“There is a certain group who find it more acceptable to violate and cross a line with trans women rather than women who were born in the right body,” she says. “This little, cute, pretty, innocent Iceland is just not so innocent. This is a bit underground and needs a light shined on it. There is so much wrong with this and is never discussed.”

She shared numerous screenshots of messages she has received on social media, wherein those messaging express the desire to abuse and assault her sexually, specifically because she is trans.

Doing better

Uprooting this culture, Björk says, means that supposed allies of trans people need to do more than simply be vocal cheerleaders; actions need to follow these words, to fight alongside trans people in this struggle for liberation. The system, in particular the judicial and the health care system, also needs to do more and better to serve Iceland’s trans community, naming for example that trans-related surgeries–which, for many trans people, can be lifesaving–have been indefinitely postponed, with many trans people left waiting as their will to live dwindles.

“The point of this status is for people to realise that no one is playing around by going into the process of surgery, and that we often need to fight for our lives, and I sincerely hope I survive,” she says in closing on her Facebook post. “You who are straight, born in the right body and fully healthy, remember to be grateful. Try and make life easier for the generation coming up, and save some lives.”

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