On the first of February 2023, the Finnish Parliament voted in favour of the government’s proposal for reforming the Trans Act. The matter was settled with votes of 113 in favour, 69 against, with 17 MPs absent from the vote. Parliamentary majority also sided with the clause proposed by the Social Affairs and Health Committee, regarding further extending the right to legal gender recognition to minors.
Here we aim to offer a rundown in English of the reform and the gender recognition process moving forward.
New Requirements and Process for Gender Recognition
The new “Act on Gender Recognition” states that an individual can apply to be recognized as belonging to a (legal) gender other than the one they are registered as currently in the population information system if they:
1) Present a statement that they permanetly deem themselves to belong to the gender they seek to be recognized as.
2) Are of age of majority (18 or older)
3) Are a Finnish citizen or have a permanent residence in Finland
In clearer terms, an adult citizen or permanent resident of Finland can apply to be legally recognized and registered as another gender by providing a statement of a permanent identification with the target gender.
In the preparation documents for the reform, it has been recognized that gender is experienced in various ways, many of which do not conform to the traditional gender binary, and as such the requirement is not for a strictly binary identity. This along with the exact wording changing from “the opposite gender” to “another gender” means that gender recognition is possible for non-binary individuals, and that the new law is compatible if (hopefully when) a third legal gender category is to come.
After an application is submitted, there is a 30 day “consideration period” during which the applicant is provided an information package on the legal consequences of gender recognition. After thirty days the person must confirm their application, after which it can be processed. Confirmation must be done within six months of submitting the application, otherwise the application will automatically expire.
Gender Recognition in Parental Labels
Another notable improvement in the reform, even internationally speaking, is the ability to change one’s parental label to be in accordance with the legal gender of the individual. The application can be done separately for each child, and at the same time as the application for gender recognition or separately later. This allows for flexibility and for the parental labels to finally accurately reflect transgender parents’ relationship to their children. Unfortunately, a neutral label of “parent” or similar is not available.
However, this clause is set to come into effect a year later, on 1.3.2024, due to this addition requiring changes to systems handing information related to parental labels. Delay was deemed necessary to give time for systems to adjust.
Recognition of a Foreign Gender Recognition Decision
As the previous Trans Act did, this new law states that a legal decision of gender recognition must be recognized in Finland with no additional confirmation. Specifically, if an individual has been recognized abroad as a gender other than the one they are registered as in the Finnish population information system by a legal decision done while the individual was a citizen or a resident of the nation in question, that decision is to be recognized in Finland.
This process should not differ significantly from its current state. DVV (Digital and Population Data Service Agency) has information available on this process in English.
We aim to update this article when further details are published of the practical side of the process. If there are questions or things you'd like an English explanation for about this or other relevant topics, send us a ticket or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org