Today, November 23rd, is the Transgender Day of Remembrance and in light of that a special event will take place at the City Hall (i. Ráðhúsið) at 17:30. Halla Þórlaug Óskarsdóttir met Ugla Stefanía Jónsdóttir, the chair of Trans-Iceland, at The University Bar (i. Stúdentakjallarinn), for a quick chat about the issues transgender people face in Iceland. When asked about the biggest challenges they’re currently confronting, Ugla immediately mentioned linguistic issues. The definition of transgender people by law is “people having problems with gender identification” which suggests that trans people have a disease.

UGLA: “It’s condescending. Also: Transgender people should have control over their life. Today there is a committee that decides if you can have the reassignment surgery or not. This committee is some sort of “gate-keeper”. Regardless of its work, which is very good in a way, its authority is abnormally great. They could have said to me: “No, you can’t have the surgery, we don’t feel you’re woman enough.”

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Ugla Stefanía Jónsdóttir chair of Trans-Iceland. Photo by Mía Hjartardóttir.

Hence, the biggest issue is definitely for transgender people to gain control over their life. Having the right to decide for themselves. This makes sense. Who would ever decide to undergo a difficult procedure just for the heck of it? Ugla tells me that Denmark has already adopted “the Argentinian way”; which basically gives every person permission to decide for themself which gender they belong to.

UGLA: “This way being transgender is not defined as a disease. There is still a committee, but its job is to offer support and education. They don’t have anything to do with decision-making. This also gives way for people who don’t necessarily define themselves as either male or female. There they can participate in the process up to some point. In Iceland this is not possible, for the law require you to define your gender and enter the gender reassignment process towards “the opposite gender”. So if you want hormones, you have to define yourself as an individual of the opposite gender.”

Ugla herself has undergone a sex reassignment surgery (SRS) and says that after the procedure she felt a great pressure to become even more “girly” than she already was.

UGLA: “I think I felt even more pressure than my female friends. I felt a pressure to be extremely feminine, extremely pretty and preferably watch chick flicks all day.”

HALLA: “Basically become another person.”

UGLA: “Exactly. Someone very different from myself. But I played the part for a while, because I felt I had to.”

HALLA: “Ironic, since you went through with the whole thing because you felt that your body wasn’t representing the person you were on the inside. And then afterwards you felt the need to pretend to be someone else.”

UGLA: That’s right. But gradually it dawned on me: I’m not some “typical girl”.”

Criticizes the fight

Our talk goes back to the conflicts that the transgender-battle faces, how it sometimes clashes with other ideologies and movements; such as feminism and the Queer movement.

Ugla with Rebekka We and Raul Budusan at adsf adsf.

Ugla with Rebekka We and Raul Budusan at a summer camp for queer youths in Germany.

UGLA: “Modern Feminism, for example, focuses on constructivism and socialization. Then all of a sudden some trans-individual arrives and says: “Baby, I was born this way. It’s in my nature.” That doesn’t exactly go together.
As a member of the younger generation of trans-individuals, I have started to criticize the norm, while the trans-people before me basically had no other choice than just walk into the norm as it was.
It’s not different from the waves in other movements, such as feminism, now we’re facing the second wave of trans-people. And they have started challenging the idea of Man and Woman … and started asking the question: What gender do you want to belong to?”

HALLA: “And maybe in what proportions you want to belong to each gender?”

UGLA: “That’s exactly it. Obviously I think gender matters, but at the same time I feel that it doesn’t. It’s difficult, because people are discriminated against based on their gender and that’s why I think it’s an important discussion. It’s also important to think about gender in the sense of what it is and how it’s represented. Because gender is more than just male or female… penis or pussy. It’s personal rather than biological. But then again, I think we’re way too focused on gender in every field.”

And there are other matters Ugla is highly critical of. As a part of an educational group from The National Queer Organization (i. Samtökin ’78) who visit elementary schools to educate children on trans-gender issues, Ugla says that sadly kids don’t get any other education on the matter in school.

UGLA: “I feel that the issues of transgender people should be discussed in biology, sociology and sex education. Transgender kids don’t get any education in school. They have to search for information elsewhere. That’s not okay.”

On the positive note Ugla says that members of Trans-Iceland, which she is chair of, applaud the idea to discontinue the Personal Name Committee of Iceland. The committee has the power to reject names on various grounds. One of them is that women should have female names and men should bear male names.

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As this photo shows the kids had a lot of fun at the camp.

UGLA: “This name-committee being abolished would mean a lot to the transgender society. Then anyone could go out and change their name to whatever they felt like – without legally being of a certain gender. You could even have a female first name and a male middle name.”

In the beginning we started talking about linguistic issues and it’s evident that the Icelandic language doesn’t make life any easier for transgender people, since it is very gender oriented.

UGLA: “You’re constantly forced to confirm your gender. You can’t say you’re hungry without stating your gender. I was listening to a radio show the other day where a linguistic expert blatantly declared that the pronouns are a closed word group. What a load of crap. Who decides that?”

Obviously gender has nothing to do with the feeling of hunger. And although it’s difficult to mess with the sacred language of Icelandic, it’s probably only a matter of time before the closed group of pronouns will open up for other identities.

Language should definitely encourage the freedom of expression – instead of being a deterrent for a minority group. Everyone should be encouraged to speak up – and not feel forced to shut up, because of language.

How ironic when language itself is making people uncomfortable with speaking.

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is held annually on November 20th to remember people who have been killed, shown hatred or feared due to trans-phobia. The aim is to bring attention to the challenges transgender people face with events such as candlelight vigils, art shows and film screenings.

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is held annually on November 20th to remember people who have been killed, shown hatred or feared due to trans-phobia. The aim is to bring attention to the challenges transgender people face with events such as candlelight vigils, art shows and film screenings.

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        Núðluskálin
        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        Seatours
        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

        600x400-seatours-tasting

        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

        600x400-seatours

        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -shags
        -kittiwakes
        -fulmars
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us


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