Trans people declare the Icelandic health care system inhumane

Iceland has a long way to go when it comes down to framing the health care service in a way that is fair, humane and up to date with the newest and best regulations about trans related health care. This is the grim conclusion of a new video where trans people describe their experience of the Icelandic health care system. The video premiered today during a seminar at the University of Iceland

The director of the video, British film-maker Fox Fisher, says that one of the biggest challenge that trans people currently face when comes to the health care system in Iceland, is the pre-judgement the health care system puts upon them.

British filmmaker and trans activist Fox Fisher to come to Iceland and do a workshop for those interested in making videos and shortfilms about the trans experience of the health system.
British filmmaker Fox Fisher has done a video, where trans people in Iceland step forward and describe their experience of the Icelandic health care system. The video was shown today at the University of Iceland, during a seminar labelled “Trans people and the health care system”. The event was organised by The school of health science, as part of the so called Equality days.

“The people I interviewed all talk about this very strong requirement to fulfill a certain gender role, heavily based on outdated ideas about men and women, their behavior, clothing, hobbies, interest and general expectations about them,” says Fox. “They say that they need to put on an act, a certain role, and play along just to get the health care services that they need. It’s all very binary and seems like the health care system is very concerned with making sure people fit into a very specific, narrow box.

Because of that, a lot of people who are non binary talk about how inaccessible and excluding the health care system is for them. Health officials aren’t keen on accepting the identity of a non binary person. Instead they’re focused on the person’s presentation, whether they appear feminine or masculine, and treat them based on that. Some non binary people say that they even have to compromise a part of their identities just to please the health care employees. And only after they’ve gotten what they want, do they finally have the freedom to be themselves.

What trans people are saying is that they are being forced by health care officials to jump through hoops and do circus tricks for them, so they can access the health care services they need. In other words, people who have been forced to live their life for a long time as their assigned gender, are thrust into yet another role by the health care system – before they can actually live their lives as who they really are.”

“Trans people … are being forced by health care officials to jump through hoops and do circus tricks for them, so they can access the health care services they need.”

Another major challenge trans people are facing in regards to the Icelandic health care system, is the stigma associated with being diagnosed as mentally ill. “You see in Iceland trans people still need to be diagnosed with a mental disorder to be able to get health care, and they put up with it even though that’s not the case, even though they’re perfectly sane, just so they can get the health care they really need,” Fox explains. “And by mental disorder I’m referring to the outdated definition “gender identity disorder”, which health care officials in Iceland are using as a diagnosis for trans people, instead of the most recent and up to date diagnosis “gender dysphoria”.

 The WPATH regulations are guidelines for health care professionals, based on extensive research about trans related health care and there are several major differences between those and the current system in Iceland. One of the ways the Icelandic system is not in tune with this is for example the extended real life experience trial, The Real-Life Experience (RLE), sometimes called the Real-Life Test (RLT), is a period of time in which transgender individuals live full-time in their preferred gender role. The purpose of the RLE is to confirm that a given transgender person can function successfully as a member of said gender in society, as well as to confirm that they are sure they want to live as said gender for the rest of their life. which WPATH has specifically found out is often unneeded and far too long in most places.
The WPATH regulations are guidelines for health care professionals, based on extensive research about trans related health care. There are several major differences between those and the current system in Iceland. One of the ways the Icelandic system is not in tune with this is for example “the extended real life experience trial” . In Iceland a trans individual has to live full-time in their preferred gender role for about a year, before getting health care. The purpose of the trial is to confirm that they can function successfully as a member of said gender in society, as well as to confirm that they are sure they want to live as said gender. WPATH has found out that the trial is often unneeded and far too long in most places. And trans people in Iceland agree with that.

The difference between the two, is that “gender identity disorder” basically says trans people have a mental disease and that’s why they are trans. Treatment is therefore considered a cure of a mental disease according to that definition.

While “gender dysphoria” is the depression, anxiety or deep sense of not fitting with your assigned gender and the complications that can occur if you are not allowed to live in accordance with your own gender identity. Which puts the emphasis on that trans people require health care in order to improve their well-being.

Countries using “gender dysphoria” are following the newest and most established regulations about trans health care, published by WPATH, World Organisation for Transgender Health. The regulations, which are guidelines for health care professionals based on extensive research about trans related health care, state that a diagnosis of “gender identity disorder” should not be a requirement for treatment, and that trans people should have the right to self-identification.

So by still using “gender identity disorder”and therefore classifying trans people as mentally ill, the health care system in Iceland is not in tune with the newest and most established regulations about trans health care. The national health services in Iceland are still based around these outdated definitions, even though they are used at the cost of people’s happiness, while many other countries are using the most updated definition, “gender dysphoria”. Like in the UK, for example.”

In fact Fox has examined the British health care system as well through the eyes of trans people. Asked if there’s a difference between that and how trans people experience the health care system in Iceland, Fox says it is in many ways different as the health care system and sector in general is very different. 

“In the UK we have clinics that specialize more in trans issues. I guess that’s due to the size difference; there are a lot more trans people in the UK than in Iceland so surgeons and officials in the UK probably gain experience faster than in Iceland where they have fewer trans people going through the system.

A still from the new video.
A still from the new video.

What the health care system in Britain and in Iceland do have in common, is that both cover some of the costs for hormones and genitals surgeries, but other surgeries such as breast augmentation and FSS surgeries are seen as entirely cosmetic and not covered as a part of treatment. And both have a long way to go when it comes down to awareness and being equipped to take care of trans people in general. Especially, when it comes to non binary people, who are not being included or supported.

So both systems could be improved and they could definitely learn from each other and from other countries as well, since there has been a lot of change in policies within Europe and beyond. Like in Denmark, where the health care system doesn’t use any kind of diagnosis for trans people.”

On an international level, where would you say the Icelandic health care system stands when it comes to the issues of trans people?
“Iceland was at the forefront only a few years ago, but has quickly fallen behind in comparison to other countries that have laws and policies in place; countries like Malta where trans people don’t need any kind of diagnosis to get the health care they need – they just get it, and there’s are no conditions to that. So Iceland falling behind has in part to do with the Icelandic health care system; the before mentioned facts that trans people in Iceland still need to be diagnosed with a mental disorder to be able to get health care and fulfill outdated requirements to get access to health care. Which is not only outdated but not in accordance to human rights views on trans rights and trans related health care.

“… trans people in Iceland still need to be diagnosed with a mental disorder to be able to get health care and fulfill outdated requirements to get access to health care.”

So even though trans people in Iceland have gained a lot of social acceptance – thanks to amazing activists who work tirelessly in Iceland – and even though they are fortunate to have access to any health care services at all, since it’s not the case in most parts of the world, Iceland still has a long way to go when it comes down to framing the health care service in a way that is fair, humane and up to date with the newest and best regulations about trans related health care. The health care system in Iceland definitely needs improvement.”

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.


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.



        Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ) is a global technology company serving the capital markets and other industries. Our diverse offering of data, analytics, software and services enables clients to optimize and execute their business vision with confidence.

        With over 4,300 employees in 39 offices around the world, at Nasdaq we all contribute to the success of the company and its culture, and each one of us has the ability to make a difference. When it comes to our core mission and values, we embrace the role of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) as a fundamental driver of our corporate growth, workplace culture and market development. We strive to create a culture that embraces the power of different perspectives—a culture where people’s unique backgrounds and different experiences helps us fuel innovation and support our clients around the world.

        Our unique position at the center of the capital markets allows us to see firsthand how these values have redefined corporate culture and success, deepening and accelerating our own commitment to champion inclusive growth and prosperity, as we strive to create more equitable opportunities to help people of all backgrounds reach their full potential. Most notably, we published our diversity statistics for the first time in 2020. These metrics serve as a quantitative assessment of where we are today and help determine what strategies we need to adopt to enhance diversity in the workplace. We recognize that we have much work to do, but we are steadfast in our commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive culture—one that reflects the communities in which we live, allows all employees to be their true, authentic selves and fosters individual growth and achievement.

        As we move forward together, we will continue advancing diverse ideas and perspectives that help fulfill the promise of a more inclusive and prosperous world. We aim to set the pace for rethinking capital markets and economies anywhere and everywhere. To learn more about the company, technology solutions and career opportunities, visit us on LinkedIn, on Twitter @Nasdaq, or at

        Blue Lagoon
        - One of the 25 Wonders of the World

        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 2.000 meters within the earth where seawater and freshwater converge in a tectonic realm 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 two hotels, three restaurants, three
        geothermal lagoons, a subterranean spa, a renowned line of skin care, a thriving research center, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

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

        The 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.

        - 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.

        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.

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            - 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. “

            VSÓ Ráðgjöf


              VSÓ Ráðgjöf er alhliða ráðgjafar- og verkfræðifyrirtæki sem leggur áherslu á trausta og faglega þjónustu sem tryggir viðskiptavinum hagkvæmustu lausnir hverju sinni, skilar raunverulegum árangri og stuðlar að samkeppnisforskoti.  Á skrifstofum VSÓ í Reykjavík og í Noregi starfar yfir 80 manna samhentur hópur verkfræðinga og annarra tæknimenntaðra starfsmanna.

              - 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.

              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.

              - 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).

              - 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.


              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.


              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
              -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.

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