New possibilities for trans-people in Iceland

Iceland has gained its first plastic surgeon specialized in gender reassignment surgery. Hannes Sigurjónson has taken over from Gunnar Kratz, a Swedish professor in plastic surgery, who has been performing these operations here since 2010. The new doctor says he’s very excited about the task and that he wants to offer trans-people in Iceland a broader spectrum of operative alternatives.

”We’ll be offering trans-men what’s called phalloplasty or penis construction for the very first time in Iceland. And also a new option for trans-women, who’ve had complications after their first surgery,“ says Hannes, when we inquire if there will be any novelties in gender reassignment surgery in Iceland now that he has taken over.

”Apart from that, I will be performing conventional “male-to-female” surgeries along with Halla Fróðadóttir, plastic surgeon at Landspítali hospital, in Iceland this fall. As well as doing smaller surgeries to help trans-women, who have had “male-to-female” surgery before, but for some reason have to come back for a touch up or corrective surgery.“

For the past five years Hannes has been training at Karolinska University hospital in Stockholm, Sweden (where he lives with his family) and is now a specialist in reconstructive plastic surgery. On top of that Hannes is finishing a Ph.D. in gender reassignment surgery and general health of trans-people, as well as being in charge of the gender reconstructive team, along with a colleague, at Karolinska University hospital. He will still be based in Sweden but intends to come over as often as he can, “to provide trans-people in Iceland the service that is rightfully theirs”, as he says in his own words.

Hannes Sigurjónsson. Photo/(c) Dagens Nyheter

Doctor Hannes Sigurjónsson is a specialist in reconstructive plastic surgery. He is finishing a Ph.D. in gender reassignment surgery and general health of trans health. Photo/(c) Dagens Nyheter

Asked why he decided to specialize in this part of reconstructive plastic surgery, he says it’s because of all the development taking place every day. Many studies are currently being done on the surgery-techniques, which means that patients have more options to choose from. And that’s what makes the field so interesting.

”For example, we have just started performing quite an interesting surgery called “facial feminization” at Karolinska in Stockholm, with the aim of helping trans-women with dominant male facial features look more feminine. That along with the reasons previously mentioned is what makes this field of surgery extremely exciting for me. I just realized that if I specialized in gender reassignment surgery, then there would be so many possibilities for me as a surgeon.“

Furthermore, Hannes says that his patients are generally “just so much fun”. ”Most often they’re young, chipper and healthy. And they have high demands, which I find very positive since it makes you more ambitious to succeed. They’re also very well-informed; they talk to each other and know exactly what their surgery is about.

Also, they’re very thankful and they feel so much better after surgery and are therefore, as extensive reasearch also shows, much less likely to feel depressed and suicidal. So basically you can see that you are changing a person’s life to the better. Of course it’s very rewarding to witness that. And that’s what keeps you going in such a demanding job.“

”I think that breast-augmentation should be […] part of the package […] it should be paid by health insurance.“

One thing of the things that make the work so demanding are the surgery-techniques, which Hannes says are very complicated. ”The training is a difficult learning process you have to go through. You have to do many, many surgeries in order to become good. To gain the necessary skills takes a long time.“

But he points out that the resources in Sweden, especially at a large university hospital like the Karolinska, offer you the opportunity to do complicated and large procedures and to develop the technique till it becomes better.
”One example is that in the last 5-10 years we have been able to reduce surgery-time for male-to-female gender reassignment surgery from 4-5 hours to 1 1/2 -2 hours. This is because the surgery team, that is the surgeon, assistants, nurses, anesthetioligists etc., have had so much training that they’ve become like a well-oiled machine. And that results not only in reduced surgery-time but also in fewer complications for our patients.“

So is there a big difference between these kind of operations and general surgery?

(c) Karolinska University Hospital

Hannes and his colleague are in charge of the gender reconstructive team at the Karolinska in Sweden. Photo/(c) Karolinska University Hospital

”Oh yeah, a huge difference. You see, while general surgery mainly revolves around the intra abdominal area (i. kviðarhol) or breast cancer surgery (i. brjósta-krabbameinsskurðlækningar), the main purpose of plastic surgery is to improve functional abilities and the bodies’ appearance after an accident, cancer surgery, congenital defects and conditions like trans-sexualism. Which means that as a plastic surgeon you’re working all over the body, from head to toe so to speak, with patients of all ages.“

On that note, is there anything more you can tell us about the new procedures you’ll be offering? 

”Well, regarding the phalloplasty procedures in general, there’s not enough tissue in the genital area to create a real size penis for trans-men. But now we’re able to create the penis from tissue that has been removed from the thigh or forearm. In short, that’s the procedure that we’ll now be offering trans-men in Iceland.

Now with trans-women, sometimes they have complications after their first surgery, for example if there wasn’t enough skin to create a vagina to begin with, there have been infections, bleeding etc. In recent years, we have been developing new procedures at the Karolinska University hospital, where we can now create a vagina from the small intestines. Procedures that have proven to be very successful. And now, those procedures will hopefully be available to the trans-women here.“

”[…] you can see that you are changing a person’s life to the better. […] And that’s what keeps you going in such a demanding job.“

You also mentioned that you will be offering smaller surgeries to help trans-women who – for some reason – have come for corrective surgery or touch up. What could the reasons for that be?
”Well, for example if the urethral opening is too small, or there is too much skin covering the vaginal-orifice (the opening).“

Are there any surgery-techniques you would like to implement here in Iceland?
”Yes phalloplasty should be available here. A surgery that trans-men have had to undergo in central Europe.

Also, I think that breast-augmentation should be offered to trans-women as part of the package. You see, research indicates that trans-women who don’t develop enough breast-growth through hormones, feel bad about it, have a harder time adjusting to their new gender roles and a tougher time being accepted as women by society. In those kind of situations I believe breast-augmentation could really help resolve the issues. Therefor, it should be paid by health insurance, the same way health insurance pays for “mastectomy” [removal of breasts] for trans-men.

These are the kind of surgeries I’d like to implement here. The kind of surgeries that are already considered standard in the other Nordic countries. I would like to see them become available for trans-people in Iceland.“

Main photo: Hannes Sigurjónsson, the first Icelandic plastic surgeon specialized in trans-surgery. Photo/(c) Karolinska University Hospital

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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