For trans and non-binary people, moving to a new country has some added struggles regarding social acceptance, safety, and medical care. While it is simple to find out that Sweden is one of the most progressive countries regarding transgender issues by conducting a google search, the medical care part is not so easy to figure out. Here are a few things I learned while I transition.
Transitioning: Things to consider before moving countries
When I first began planning my move to Sweden, I completely forgot to figure out how I would continue my medical transition after moving to a new country. By the time I remembered, I only had a couple of months to figure it out.
For most trans people who have already started transitioning, it would be disastrous, both physically and emotionally, to have to pause it for any reason. I, therefore, began investigating what the process was for getting an appointment at ANOVA in Stockholm, which is one of the clinics in Sweden that provides trans-related healthcare. You can find the list of gender identity investigation teams or clinics here.
I soon found out that the waiting list for new patients at the Stockholm clinic was close to twelve months. That was way too long to be off medication for me.
I began calling the clinic and contacting other organizations like RFSL for information. That bit was tricky, because ANOVA only has phone hours for two hours per day, and they are often busy. My only advice for that is to be patient!
Eventually, after days and days of calling and worrying over it, I found out that the waiting list does not apply for those who have already started hormone replacement therapy in another country. All I needed to do was get my current doctor to write a report. It needed to include my medical information about my transition. I then handed that in at the clinic the day I arrived. I got an appointment within a couple of months!
Some tips for those dealing with this situation:
- Don’t give up on calling the clinic just because they don’t answer at first. They have the answers for most of your questions.
- You’re going to need either your personnummer, or a European Health Insurance Card in order to pay the local prices. Otherwise, you risk paying upwards of 4000 SEK for it.
- When you first move, at least if you’re moving from another EU country, you are allowed to bring your medication. It is very important that you don’t interrupt your treatment while you get the appointment. Regarding how much of it you are allowed to bring, it might be a good idea to call Tullverket and have them clarify that.
Transitioning is a long process. It is important to keep in mind the many details that need to be sorted out. In my case, it has included changing my name while in Sweden. You can read about my experience and advice here.