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Ministry of Social Affairs: Sex changes shouldn’t need political approval

Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE).
Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE). Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

Anyone who wants their sex changed in Estonia needs the agreement of the minister of health and labor. According to the position of the Ministry of Social Affairs, this should instead be in the responsibility of a committee made up of doctors, not the minister.

“A sex change is a medical and not a political procedure, which is why this decision should be made by doctors, and not a minister,” Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE) told daily Postimees.

Advisor to the Ministry of Social Affairs’ department tasked with developing the Estonian healthcare system, Ingrid Ots-Vaik, pointed out that the directive, in force since 1999, the medical procedures to complete a sex change need the written permission of the minister.

Before the minister can sign off on the procedures involved, any such case also has to pass an expert committee in the ministry made up of psychiatrists, gynaecologists, and men’s doctors. Before the state can agree to the sex change, there also needs to be a diagnosis of a “transsexual identity” applicable and valid for at least two years.

A bill introduced by the ministry to review the Public Health Act would dispose of the 1999 directive.

In 2016, 11 people in Estonia expressed the wish to have their sex changed.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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