Last Wednesday, at the 5th of November, SAIH Bergen organized a seminar about transsexuality. For that Stein Wolff Frydenlund was invited to talk, the head of the trans political committee LLH (National Association for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people).
Before starting his presentation he asked the audience if anybody knows a famous transgender person in Norway. Only one person did. According to estimates, Stein Wolff Frydenlund said, there are between 19.000 and 20.000 transgender people in Norway. Even though transsexuality is recently receiving a lot of media attention, it is quit an unknown topic for a lot of people. Nonetheless the number of participants showed that there is a growing interest in learning more about transsexuality and transgender people. It was the best attended seminar during this semester.
As an introduction Stein Wolff Frydenlund showed us the video “Trans 101” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwYQIdT5lSk). It showed how many different possibilities exist in the mixture between Sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender orientation. It also provided some common terms useful for talking about gender identity.
After this video he talked about the rights of transgender people both nationally in Norway and internationally. In terms of legal opportunities for changing your gender he pointed Argentina out as a pioneer example. Basically you declare yourself as a transgender person and then get a legal status. The situation in Norway is different. If you want to change your gender legally and get medication one step which needs to be fulfilled is to get a psychological certificate. “I don’t want to be looked at like someone who has psychological problems” said Stein Wolff Frydenlund.
In the second part of the evening there was room for questions and discussions. The audience mainly asked personal questions about how he found out that he wanted to change his gender and how people and especially his family reacted when he talked about it. It was clearly coming out that people did not know so much about transsexuality before so everybody was very interested in seeking more knowledge about it. Afterwards some participants told us that it is still a taboo subject in their home countries so they really appreciated to get the possibility to find out more about it and to talk to someone personally who is transgender.
All in all it was a very educational evening and we hope that everybody who attended the seminar, enjoyed it!