The 2011 Sweden Study on Transgender Criminality is Flawed for More Reasons Than You’d Think

Articles have been written before about the 2011 study on transgender criminality which seems to “prove” that transgender women are just as prone to sexual assault as cisgender men. One of the researchers, Dr. Ceclia Dhejene, has already responded to those claims and stated that the research actually shows that health care for transgender people has actually gotten better over time and that there was no causal link between “male criminality” and transgender women.

However, the article that contains that interview, while comprehensive and informative, ignores one major factor. The study itself only considered the variable of whether or not the transgender person had SRS as a measure of transition, which leads to a whole bunch of new variables.


Not all transgender people receive SRS, for many different reasons. SRS is an expensive procedure without insurance, reaching tens of thousands of dollars. SRS may not be as effective as what that individual wants. The individual may choose not to get SRS because they personally do not want it. There’s many different reasons for a transgender person to never get this surgery, and they are still transgender.

Even for the transgender individual who wants SRS, the aftermath of SRS is difficult. The costs of surgery along with the long and painful recovery are burdens for an already over-stigmatized group. The study itself takes note that many of the individuals who receive SRS in Sweden are immigrants from other countries – who may have obstacles towards receiving SRS, or not have easily-accessible SRS.

“Passing” as a transgender individual on a daily basis is mostly dependent upon factors such as hormone treatment and “cosmetic” surgery, not SRS. When studying transgender criminality, consideration should not be given solely to one individual factor but the individual’s personal level of self-satisfaction in regards to presenting as their gender on a daily basis. The ability to pass leads to a greater chance that an individual will be successful in life and tends to correlate to greater self-reported levels of personal satisfaction.

In regards to “male criminality,” the study itself does not distinguish between sexual assault crimes and other types of violent crime. A transgender individual who defended herself in an assault and was erroneously convicted of assault would be in the same category in this study as a transgender woman who committed rape. I would not be surprised to discover that, when examining the raw data, we find that transgender women are less prone to violent sexual crime than either cisgender or transgender men.

Although the author of the study insists that the study itself has been misrepresented, the fact that the study itself and its findings have been used to support the idea that transgender women are prone to violent sexual crimes is cherry-picking at best and demonstrates the need for more comprehensive research.

 

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