Course Syllabus

Transgender in Scandinavia

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Semester & Location:

Fall 2023 - DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines:

Gender Studies, Sociology, Anthropology

Faculty Member:

Iwo Nord (current students please use the Canvas Inbox)

Program Director:

Helle Rytkønen, 

Academic Support: 

Time & Place:

Mondays & Thursdays, 11:40-13:00 

Classroom: 1D-411 


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Charley Kåberg Norm Critical Illustration


Anthony Wagner Photographer

Course Description

Transgender celebrities such as Elliott Page and Laverne Cox have fueled mainstream interest in transgender lives and experiences. However, trans and queer communities have long fought for trans people’s rights to be ‘true to self’. This course contextualizes present-day discussions in a longer cultural and intellectual history. How have transgender people themselves, as well as doctors, scientists, journalists, lawyers, judges, and feminists debated questions of medical ethics, nature versus nurture, self and culture, and human rights? What does the emergence of Transgender Studies and Trans Activism mean for the politics of knowledge about trans issues? What does our culture look like through a transgender lens? By engaging with a transdisciplinary web of scholarship we will examine “transgender” as an object of knowledge as well as “trans” ways of knowing. We will explore how trans bodies and experiences are shaped and reshaped at the intersection of medicine, law, media, art, activism, and theory – historically and contemporarily. Some topics are sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender-neutral pronouns, transgender children and their families, feminist matters, and how race, class, age, and geography intersect with being trans. The course has a special focus on Sweden and Scandinavia. But we will also move in transnational directions, within and outside the Western world, to contextualize local experiences and practices of gender non-conformity.  

Learning Objectives

  • To understand and critically evaluate the historical, cultural, and political context of trans identities and trans bodies in Scandinavia and Sweden, in particular. 
  • To contextualize experiences and practices of gender non-conformity in a world that is both local and global. 
  • To critically examine the politics of knowledge(s) about trans issues.   
  • To critically compare the inclusion and exclusion of trans perspectives in gender theory discourse and feminist movements in Europe and the U.S.  
  • To recognize the stakeholders and forces of influence that govern and police gender conformity.  
  • To identify key legislation that impacts trans lives and critically examine the surrounding discourse.


Iwo Nord is a trans researcher and educator interested in transgender and queer lives and culture, nuances of agency and power, intersections of the transnational and the local, and questions concerning mobility (travel and migration). The past years he has been committed to building and strengthening Transgender Studies in both the Nordic region and in the former Yugoslav space. Devoted to social change for trans people, he is involved in trans academic and activist alliances, resulting in the collaborative volume In Transition: Trans Lives, Activisms, and Culture in the Post-Yugoslav Space, edited by Bojan Bilić, Iwo Nord and Aleksa Milanović (2022). He was one of the founding members of Trans Fest Stockholm, an activist collective that strives to create inclusive and empowering cultural and community events in the Swedish capital. Iwo is a PhD candidate in Gender Studies at Södertörn University, and is affiliated with the Center for Baltic and East European Studies. His doctoral project ethnographically explores Belgrade as a transnational destination for gender-affirming surgery. He holds an MA from the University of Oslo, Norway, and has formerly taught at the Institute of Scandinavian and Finnish Studies at the University of Gdansk, Poland. Iwo’s publications include “Routes to Gender-Affirming Surgery: Navigation and Negotiation in Times of Biomedicalization” in Body, Migration, Re/constructive Surgeries: Making the Gendered Body in a Globalized World, edited by Gabriele Griffin and Malin Jordal (Routledge 2018).


Contact info

Iwo Nord

Pronouns: he him his (or they them theirs)

In Swedish: han honom hans (or hen hen hens)

Cell: +46769170781



  • Ida Linander, Erika Alm, Anne Hammarström, and Lisa Harryson (2017) Negotiating the (bio)medical gaze - Experiences of trans-specific healthcare in Sweden, Social Science and Medicine, 174, 9-16
  • * Malin Lindroth, Galit Zeluf, Louise Nilunger Mannheimer and Charlotte Deogan (2017) Sexual Health among Transgender People in Sweden, International Journal of Transgenderism
  • * Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel and Sarah Tobias (Editors) (2016) Trans Studies: The Challenge to Hetero/Homo Normativities, Rutgers University Press, New Jersey
  • * Christina Richards, Walter Pierre Bouman, Leighton Seal, Meg John Barker, Timo O. Nieder and Guy T'Sjoen (2016) Non-binary or Genderqueer Genders, International Review of Psychiatry, 28:1, 95-102
  • * Marie Gustafsson Sendén, Emma A. Bäck and Anna Lindqvist (2015) Introducing a gender-neutral pronoun in a natural gender language: the influence of time on attitudes and behavior, Frontiers in Psychology, 6:893
  • * Dean Spade (2015) Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law, Duke University Press, Durham
  • * Susan Stryker (2017) Transgender History, Seal Press, Berkeley
  • * Susan Stryker and Stephen Whittle (Editors) (2006) The Transgender Studies Reader, Routledge, New York
  • * TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, Duke University Press, Durham
  • * Galit Zeluf, Cecilia Dhejne, Carolina Orre, Louise Nilunger Mannheimer, Charlotte Deogan, Jonas Höijer and Anna Ekéus Thorson, (2016) Health, Disability and Quality of Life among Trans People in Sweden – a web-based survey, BMC Public Health, 16:903


Field Studies 

  • ANOVA - We will visit Stockholm’s gender team to hear about the process and healthcare options available for trans and gender-diverse people wanting medical interventions.
  • My Queer Collective - Towards the end of the course, in the setting of my own queer collective in Stockholm, we will discuss different ways of building families, queer life trajectories, families of choice, and the students imagined future.

Guest Lecturers

  • Body Talk - Kay Holmström Bradshaw is an actor, director, drama teacher and acting coach. She has had a lifelong fascination with the body, self image, relationships, entertainment, and communication. She calls her movement classes: Body Talk. She worked professionally in theatre, film, and TV for many years.
  • Catalyst / Cat McIlroy - Cat's Shorts. Film "festival" in our classroom.

Approach to Teaching

This is a mostly discussion-based course where each person is encouraged to offer personal insights and different perspectives to help collectively question and explore our understandings of trans and gender-diverse experiences in society.

Safe Space

In order to create a class environment that is considerate and respectful of our diverse life experiences, it is very important that we all share responsibility to help ensure a safer space for each other. Our collective learning will be enhanced through our different perspectives.


We will be openly engaging with numerous topics and issues that some students might find uncomfortable. If you feel you need to excuse yourself from the conversation or the classroom because of things brought up by our discussion, you are welcome to do so. Please just advise me at some point before or afterwards if this is the case.

Names and Pronouns 

Students should be referred to by the name they prefer and with the proper pronunciation by the teacher of this course and other students. As a teacher, I will gladly honor your request to address you by the name you prefer and the gender pronouns that correspond to your gender identity. We will introduce ourselves to each other with names and pronouns when we meet the first day of class. 

Disability Access 

If you need accommodations related to disability, please let me know as soon as possible so that your learning needs can be appropriately met.


Expectations of the Students  

Assigned readings must be done prior to class to encourage active engagement and informed participation. I want to see your participation, understanding, and engagement with the material during our discussions.

Computers can be used in class, but please keep phones in your bag. You are encouraged to take notes (because you won’t remember everything), but the how and where is up to you to decide. Please be aware that failure to comply with these expectations will negatively affect your participation grade.



You will be evaluated in several ways. Each assignment will let you meet course objectives. All work has to be completed in order to pass the class.

Areas for assessment

  • Handling of course material 
  • Scholarly argumentation and analytical abilities 
  • Command of relevant terminology 


A - Excellent. The assignment is notably elucidative, knowledgeable, inventive and critical. 

B - Well above average. The assignment is sound, well-reasoned and independent.

C - Average. The assignment is competently understood with good individual reasoning. 

D - Below average but passing. The assignment shows adequate understanding and treatment of course contents. 

F - Failure or failure to complete

I = Incomplete - to be completed (only issued in place of final course grade if an agreement exists for completion by a definite deadline which is approved by the instructor and the DIS registrar.



To be eligible for a passing grade, you must complete all of the assigned work:

25% Participation and Discussion Leading – demonstrated by actively participating in class/field studies, including participation in and leading our book circles during class.

15% Presentation / discussion leading – 30 minute presentation / discussion leading.

30%  Short Academic Reflection on a chosen topic

10% Collaborative class project - self-designed in consultation with the teacher of the course. End result will be presented as show-case.

20% Transgender in Scandinavia Course Reflections – 2  essays - one (1 page) at the beginning and one (2 pages) at the end of the course.


Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on: 


DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -


                                                  Please note that the schedule and its content is subject to change

Course Summary:

Date Details Due