Menntaskólinn við Sund, a secondary school in Reykjavík, has disallowed a transgender student to change his name in the school’s records. The headmaster claims that he must use the name given in the National Registry (Þjóðskrá Íslands) because of administrative hassle.
The student, Dalvin Smári Imsland, came out to his friends and classmates as a transgender man last year, asking them to now refer to him by his chosen name. Following this, he contacted the school registry to ask them to do the same. However, when the semester started, all documents still showed his old name and his parents were informed that the headmaster had no plans to correct it.
Icelandic laws dictate that an individual transitioning cannot change their name in the National Registry until they’ve been through 18 months of the transitioning process, which includes psychological counselling. Many institutions can, however, change their own records to reflect a person’s chosen name. Other secondary schools in Iceland, such as Kvennaskólinn í Reykjavík (the Women’s Junior College in Reykjavík), have already done so to accommodate their transgender students.
Óliver Elí Jónsson, a transgender student at Kvennaskólinn, said in an interview with visir.is that changing his name in his school registry was “absolutely no problem”. He said that soon after he came out, his mother sent an e-mail to the school’s offices because he had not yet reached the age of 18. Within hours, the school had already made the changed.
The situation with Dalvin Smári echoes the words of Iceland’s Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who stated in a speech during Reykjavík Pride that Iceland has fallen behind on issues regarding the legal status of the queer community, especially regarding trans and intersex people.
However, Iceland is taking steps in the right direction. The National Queer Organization (Samtökin 78) recently brought a bill to Alþingi that involves the individual’s right to determine their gender themselves and ensures that their gender identity is recognised everywhere.
The bill is also designed to ensure that individuals will have the right to physical autonomy and equal rights regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, primary sexual characteristics, and gender expression.