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Swedish Anti-Person Legislation

While it is rather common for some self-proclaimed "socialists" living in North America to perpetuate the delusion that Sweden is a "socialist" country (I'm looking at you, /r/socialism), and though the Swedish left would tell us otherwise, it turns out the socialist utopia of Sweden should be throwing the moniker "nationalist" in front of its supposed "socialism".

The Angry Marxists blog alerted me to the fact that Sweden is now planning a forced sterilization campaign aimed at transpersons.  If you are Swedish and trans then you will be sterilized if you transition.  All to satisfy the religious right in Sweden, of course, who also aren't under the impression that they are living in a socialist country.  Nor is this entirely shocking, as the Sweden-is-socialist camp would hilariously have us think, since Sweden's capitalist class has, for a very long time, flirted with fascism.  Indeed, this is why the broadest left coalitions in Sweden are anti-fascist orientated.

The original image here was inaccurate: see the comments.

None of this is to claim, of course, that Sweden doesn't possess numerous social and economic reforms that make life under capitalism more liveable than it is in the US (or Canada, which is also not "socialist", for that matter), or that Sweden's liberal reformism isn't heterogeneous and filled with contradictions… But these contradictions are only an in-house squabble amongst the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie that is more than happy to live with welfare reforms (possible under capitalism only because of imperialism) while: they are not significant contradictions because, as this new anti-person Swedish legislation proves, the reactionaries can have their sterilization campaign, the liberals can have some social services, and all parts of the ruling class are content.

While there are still so-called "leftists" who think it is fine to throw transpeople under the proverbial bus––and have often done so simply by setting the needs of this oppressed group irrationally against the needs of other oppressed groups (i.e. ciswomen needs trump transpeople needs, therefore transpeople needs don't count)––it would blow my mind if someone claiming to be progressive in any way-shape-or-form tried to justify these laws… But then again, I once had to purge my blogroll because someone tried to argue that a ciswoman stabbing a transwoman to death in a fast food restaurant bathroom was not a hate crime but a bloody "revolutionary" act––so I suppose, once the inevitable justifications for this law are given (like the one a supposed LGBT spokesperson in Sweden gave) by people who are left in form but right in essence, I might not be as shocked as any rational person who likes people should otherwise be.

I first learned about this law after reading a post by Ms. Marx about the anti-trans measures of a YWCA in her city, and found it interesting that a commenter (to which Ms. Marx responded eloquently) tried to partially justify these measures by coming up with an anecdote where an abused religious ciswoman was offended to learn that another abused woman giving her a massage was trans.  The meaning given to this story was that the offended woman was only offended because, due to abuse, she rightfully has problems being touched by men and, because of a purported religious conservatism, she could only recognize the other woman as male.  The conclusion, a wild logical leap but a normative part of what passes as "common sense" these days, was that the needs of the abused ciswoman trumped the needs of the abused transwoman and, because of this assumed trumping, the latter should be given another space.  Well, Ms. Marx's article already talked about the supposed "other space" that her local YWCA claimed the deported transwoman could access: turns out it was the park.

Furthermore, there actually has been a lot of LGBT agitation around creating safe-spaces for queer and transpeople in my social context because, and these anecdotes aren't the ones that get told, queer and especially trans victims of abuse are often treated to more abuse and chauvinism in the "normal" shelters.  Not because they are given massages by other women, but because of actual bigotry.  Thing is, conservative cut-backs in numerous cities [and here I'm talking about Canada, where I live], these queer and trans sensitive spaces are being eliminated as "superfluous" and reactionary mayors like Rob Ford justify these cuts by saying: "we already have womens shelters that these 'other' people can go to."  Except apparently, the ciswomen and the workers of these shelters aren't always happy with a transwoman walking through their doors.  But hey, there's always the park.

Returning to the issue at hand, however, the point is that pseudo-leftist justification for Sweden's fascist legislation is not hard to imagine; nor is it as unthinkable as I would like to believe.  If we try very hard, and in every case, we can always find progressive-sounding arguments for our unquestioned chauvinisms.  But if you can at least grasp the very logical fact that this Swedish legislation is wrong then, at the very least, support the campaign to stop it from being instituted.


  1. I can't even explain how much this issue has been bothering me since I read this post. I can't even fathom how people think it's ok to have forced sterilization of any group. Any time I see transphobic occurrences, what comes to mind is that things that are considered ok with respect to trans people (from forced sterilization to transphobic humor on television) are largely not considered acceptable with other groups. What will it take before we realize that trans people are PEOPLE and deserve to be treated as such. I tend to get the impression that as long as capitalism leaves us a place for hierarchies, different groups will continue to be treated differently based on largely socially constructed categories. Still, sterilization based on race could not be enshrined into law at this time.

    1. Yes, it is definitely a very bothersome and frightening issue. What's even more upsetting is the justifications coming from some Swedish feminists and queer activists, both groups that should know beter. And your post on the transphobia in your city's YWCA was really timely considering that it coincided with this event in Sweden.

  2. Hi, I doubt the people pictured here are Swedes. How about Germans or Dutch? The text should read 'Antifascistisk Aktion' in Swedish. Also the policemen look un-swedish.

    Like reading your blog, by the way. Compared to what the very few M-L-M-people here in Sweden produces, it keeps a much higher standard (as far as I have seen so far, anyway).

    1. Thanks for the correction. I blame google pictures since, I believe, I only ended up with this picture when I typed in "anti-capitalist, sweden" or something like that. And thanks for the compliments about my blog.

  3. Come on! On the picture, the banner says "Antifascistische Aktie", but the flags say "Nationale Socialistische Aktie", there is a Weimar Republic flag (used by German Neo-nazis as a substitute of the banned Nazi flag), and several "National Widerstand" flags (red hammer and sword on black field) as well...
    They clearly are German-influenced Dutch Neo-nazis, claiming to fight "fascism" (hence "Antifascistiche Aktie") with nationalism.
    You're not the first, a lot of people have been tricked by this picture all over the Internet. Still, symbols mean something.

    1. Thanks for the clarification. As I recall this pic just came up when I googled swedish left demonstrations. It was already pointed out by someone else in this comment string that it was erroneous.


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