The continuation of the pandemic and transphobia in Iceland

Tomorrow (19.08) a new rule will take place that will make it so that almost no tourists will come to Iceland. Everyone coming to Iceland, whatever country they are coming from, will have to quarantine for 4-6 days after their arrival and after their first COVID19 test, then they will take another test and if that one proves negative they are allowed to travel the country. Of course almost no one has the freedom to do this, which means almost no one will come. Which of course has its positives and its negatives. But at least it is positive that we are united here in Iceland to try to beat this thing, and hopefully these efforts will contribute to that and we will soon be able to welcome people here in Iceland in a normal way that is accessible to more people and not unsafe for anyone.

Soon we will be able to go to Jökulsárlón again and expect to be the only ones there. ©TinnaEik

All these news have of course put my bookings back to zero and put a damper on my mood (that’s why I’m blogging a little late), but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to keep it up, even now that my school is starting back up and I’m officially starting my masters thesis this fall. Because there are of course always a lot of news stories that are relevant to feminism and the rights of people belonging to marginalised groups. 

Transphobia in Iceland

Like in many other countries transphobia seems to be on the rise in Iceland. The hateful message of transphobic people seems to reach every layer of our society and a week ago (on the 11th of August 2020) Arnar Sverrisson, an Icelandic, male, psychologist published a column on vísir.is (one of the top news sites in Iceland) with the heading: “Gender disorder in girls. The new hysteria”. 

Photo by Kyle on Unsplash

In it Arnar revealed his very uninformed views on, in particular young trans people, but also on the trans community in general. The general content of the column wasn’t only wrong when it came to his sources, but it’s message was also hateful and only meant to hurt and belittle. It was the same senseless dribble that transphobes are usually on about but this time it came from someone that people might assume knows something more about the matter, and it is extremely dangerous, not only that this man is publishing this extremely wrong information he published, but also that visir.is published, and published it without comment.

Since the column was published many people have come out in support of Trans people and Trans Iceland issued a statement. Where they wrote this, amongst other things:

“The author’s theoretical terms and definitions are inconsistent with modern definitions or terms, and some terms are a pure fabrication by the author. It is a matter of great concern that an individual who is a psychologist should maintain such nonsense and air outdated terms that are misleading, hurtful and degrading to a vulnerable group of society. Trans people in Iceland and elsewhere still often experience great prejudice and exclusion, and their mental health often suffers as a result. The author makes matters worse with his article, which does little else than shame trans people and borders on hate speech.

Fortunately both the Transgender team at The National Hospital of Iceland and the Psycologist Association of Iceland have both said that they don’t stand with his statements.

Arnar has since been allowed to publish another column, again at visir.is, that is even more hateful and non-sensical than the first one. We have all seen examples of how hate-speech like this, especially coming from “experts” can damage the cause of marginal groups, for example with the rise of TERF-ism in the UK and in other countries. Similar things can’t be allowed to happen here, and fortunately we are trying to fight against it.

Homeless women in the middle of a pandemic

In Reykjavík The Red Cross operates a homeless shelter only for women, called Konukot. It’s meant for homeless women from anywhere in the country.

The shelter was meant to have space for 12 women and it is open from 17 every day until 10 the next morning. With Covid19 The Red Cross found out that Konukot can’t safely house 12 women while trying to stay 2 meters apart at all times so a second location was opened. 6 women were then able to stay at Konukot, and 6 women were able to stay at the second location. On top of that both houses have stayed open 24/7 during the pandemic instead of previous opening times. Today was supposed to be the final day that the second location was open, but homeless women in Iceland sent out a statement to pressure Reykjavík City and the Ministry of Welfare to keep it open since the pandemic and the guidelines to keep 2m apart are still very much in order.

Photo by Dimi Katsavaris on Unsplash

Fortunately, they listened and the second house is still open and hopefully will stay open in some form at least until this situation is all over, but hopefully it will always be open because no one should have to be homeless at any point in their life. The statement included quotes from homeless women, this is one of them: 

“It means everything to me. I could not be any healthier than I am in here. I’m experiencing happiness and being content in my own skin, I’m doing good at what I’m doing, I’m doing everything I need to do. I plan to buy an apartment. Here precautions are made so no one can get in, we are taken care of. I have to praise the staff here, it’s been perfect. I don’t fully relate with the term emergency shelter … it’s more like a home. The only thing bothering me, outside of my financial situation, is this insecurity and anxiety about what happens next. I don’t know how often I think about how long the shelter will be open like this and when I will have to go back to the streets? ”

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