Namefilter? Not quite, nameCHANGEfilter (and gender too).
March 10, 2015 11:54 AM   Subscribe

Dual nationality edition. And stateless until 4 years old. I'm trans. In which country do I have to change my legal name and gender? What? You want MORE snowflake details? Ok, ok, some more after the jump.

I realize that everything in this question is relatively uncommon, and all of it combined makes it quite close to unique, and I already asked one of the consulates and they just told me how to change it in their country, not if I have to do it first, so while I wait for another answer from them I'm posting this here in the hopes that somebody went through something similar, or knows about it, or saw a similar situation even if the countries are not the same.

So, I am a recently transitioned transwoman. I haven't started medical transition yet, but I will do it in one of these countries in a few months to a year, I already know it's covered in both and how to start it, so that's not what this question is about.

I was born in Sweden to Uruguayan parents who were there as political refugees. Sweden doesn't have jus soli, so I didn't get the Swedish nationality at birth. Uruguay has jus sanguinis, so I was entitled to Uruguayan nationality, but had my parents gone to a consulate or embassy to claim it, they would have ended up in a ditch and I would have been raised by the family of some officer in the military (or in the same ditch). Thus, Uruguay didn't know of my existence for the first years of my life. If you're following me so far and you don't suck at math, by now you probably figured out that I was stateless.

When I was four years old came the eight year anniversary of my parents' refugee status, which granted them Swedish nationality. Per jus sanguinis, nationality was automatically extended to my older siblings and me. The letter recording and notifying of that act mentions everybody with their other nationality and refers to me as stateless.

By that time, democracy had returned to Uruguay, and the conditions were given for my family to do the same. Soon, settled in Montevideo, and after some paperwork, I was recognized as a Uruguayan national.

None of these two countries have any law against dual nationality. In both I have the same rights and obligations as any other citizen. Both consider me natural, not naturalized. I had the right to one of the nationalities since birth, but got the other one first.

So.... Where the heck do I have to start? Uruguay or Sweden? Does it even matter?
I know probably nobody has gone through the exact same, but maybe with some other pair of countries, or a kind of similar situation even if it wasn't related to gender change, or maybe someone versed with international law if that applies here... Anything that can be a reference...

Thanks to anybody that can add even one cent if not two.
posted by Promethea to Law & Government (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Where do you live?
posted by k8t at 12:06 PM on March 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

There aren't going to be any reciprocal agreements about gender status, as far as I know (relatively decent knowledge about both gender identity laws and international law), so I am relatively certain that whatever you do in one country is not going to apply to the other.

So you're a citizen of both countries, but where do you live? That is where you want to legally transition first. If you want to travel on the passport of one, you'll want to have transitioned on it. Same with owning property, driving, etc. Eventually you'll need both. The fact that you're dual-national doesn't change anything in either country, just adds to your own paperwork.
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:09 PM on March 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

What passport do you travel on?

All things being equal, Sweden will have procedures for this at least, and it will be easier.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:35 PM on March 10, 2015

I am traveling and have no fixed residence since April of last year when I left Uruguay. To travel I'm using my Uruguayan ID (I don't need a passport in Latinamerica), but I'll switch to the Swedish passport when I go to countries where it makes things easier (as a matter of fact, my most likely next destination will be Sweden itself, for the medical care mentioned above).
posted by Promethea at 12:36 PM on March 10, 2015

My hunch is that Sweden is the best place to start. You have an actual passport from there, you'll probably get medical care there, your Swedish passport can probably get you into more countries visa-free in the future. Plus, I also have a feeling that Sweden might be better on gender identity issues (though Uruguay is progressive about quite a number of things so I could be wrong).

So, my suggestion to you would be to talk to a Swedish lawyer. I *think* you'd need an immigration lawyer, but you may also want to consider talking to a family lawyer (family lawyers deal with name changes and the like through marriages, divorces, adoption, etc.). The immigration lawyer could help you to confirm whether it would be better/easier to do this first in Sweden.

But seriously, you should get professional help for this -- internet strangers can help point you in the right direction, but you are going to need a trained guide.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:05 PM on March 10, 2015

So.... Where the heck do I have to start? Uruguay or Sweden? Does it even matter?

A close relative of mine has long had a federal career. Something they told me once: When there are two rules that apply equally, pick the one that serves you best.

When I read an article in a magazine about solar power about a guy who decided to go off-grid in Chicago, he called around to find the correct "authority" to deal with. He soon learned that this was no technology and there was no one to report to or get permission from. So, as long as he caused no problems, he was basically free to do as he pleased.

What you are doing is cutting edge. If your situation for some reason catches someone's attention, it might lead to rules being created or to you being told "don't do that" or "that's wrong" or "you can't do that" (possibly under circumstances that would make me go "I don't think that word ("can't") means what you think it means').

To travel I'm using my Uruguayan ID (I don't need a passport in Latinamerica), but I'll switch to the Swedish passport when I go to countries where it makes things easier

See, you already have the right idea. You just need to extend it. Use whichever one serves you best until and unless someone with legal authority to stop you says "Nope, no can do. Stop that." Because you are probably breaking new ground and there probably aren't currently any rules that really apply to this situation.
posted by Michele in California at 1:18 PM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Sweden actually does not have particularly liberal laws on this. They were the first country to permit trans people to change their gender marker, but their law is really archaic by now — when it was passed, in the early 70s, it included a really strict set of requirements, and most of the requirements are still in place (though the worst of them, mandatory sterilization, was finally overturned a few years ago). As far as I know, they still require you to be unmarried, and to go through two years of documented "real life experience," both of which can be pretty big hurdles to clear.

I know a lot less about the situation in Uruguay. This article suggests that their RLE requirement is waived for people who have had SRS. If that's true, and if you're planning on having SRS, then Uruguay might actually be the easier country to do it in after all.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:45 PM on March 10, 2015

It's one year RLE now, and I'm half through that (if they recognize the time outside Sweden), and that's old information a friend got for me, and it may be outdated already. In Uruguay it's everything else that is difficult, and now they aren't doing HRT, any surgeries or counseling, they have been restructuring that department for three years. There's no way I'm getting SRS in Uruguay even if it was possible, and I'm not even sure I'd get it in Sweden either. I think I'll save while I get everything else done in Sweden, and then have SRS with Dr. Chettawut.

Thank you all for your views, specially Michele and Lemurrhea for that perspective. If it makes no difference, medical and legal go hand in hand in both countries, and I'm going to Sweden sooner than to Uruguay, then Sweden it is!
posted by Promethea at 8:06 PM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

(Sorry — I should have assumed you knew the situation there better than me. Thanks for the correction.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:49 PM on March 10, 2015

Thank you for contributing with your opinion. Finding current information about Sweden in English in this subject is difficult, all I could find were news about the waiving of the requirement for sterilization.

I know nothing is going to be quick an easy, I am prepared for that. If I have to jump through a bunch of hoops I want to know which one is the right set of hoops and stay jumping as soon as possible. That's why I was only asking about legal "priority".
posted by Promethea at 5:23 AM on March 11, 2015

Name changing is probably a standard procedure in either country (and something you could probably go to the appropriate official office/website for advice and forms).

Official gender changing is probably less standard, and your best recourse would be getting advice from someone who has been through it (any local/online transgender group you can ask?).
posted by mirileh at 5:46 AM on March 11, 2015

I am a Swedish lawyer. I have a close friend who transitioned a bit over a decade ago. I don't think you require a lawyer to handle the Swedish side of things. To formally transition in Sweden you will first have to acquire residence. Since you're a citizen this just means registering with the tax authority that you live in Sweden on a permanent basis. After that you will have to apply to Socialstyrelsen (National board of health and Welfare) to have your legal gender changed. This is a prerequisite for any medical gender reassignment treatment. The medical side of things is entirely optional and will be done after you're already legally considered to be of the appropriate gender.

You will have to meet a team with at least one psychiatrist and one psychologist for a medical evaluation that you are in fact transsexual. In Swedish medicine this is considered a medical disorder until gender reassignment is done, with or without surgery. After that you're considered just as normal as any cis man or woman. The medical evaluation takes a couple of years in general, including RLE. I suggest you contact the Swedish HBTQ advocacy group RFSL. They probably know whether you can get through the ordeal faster if you have already lived in your preferred gender role.

Sweden will also readily accept a foreign decision that you belong to another gender, as long as you were a resident of that country at the time of the decision.
posted by delegeferenda at 1:34 PM on March 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

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