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15 April 2011

The Harry Benjamin Resource Centre Europe

On Charlotte Gioar’s HBS site, about a quarter of the way down, just above the plug for the never-happening Danish Girl movie (how typical of Goiar to be glad that a major trans role would be going to a cis actress),  you will find a plug for The Harry Benjamin Resource Centre Europe.

What is The Harry Benjamin Resource Centre Europe?

HBRCE promises a conference in Oslo in September 2012, and then:
The Harry Benjamin Resource Centre Europe (HBRC-Europe) is a professional organization devoted to the understanding and treatment of the diagnosis transsexualism.
HBRC-Europe Mission Statement
As a European multidisciplinary professional Association the mission of The Harry Benjamin Resource Centre Europe (HBRC-Europe) is to promote evidence based care, education, research, advocacy, and public policy regarding the diagnosis transsexualism
HBRC-Europe Vision Statement
The vision of The Harry Benjamin resource center-Europe (HBRS- Europe) is to expand its European authority by promoting, education, advocacy, training, research, quality health care and best practice standards for service providers and policy makers regarding the diagnosis transsexualism.
And that is it.  There is a list of board members, and a set of bylaws.  And a Links page with no links. But nothing that you might call content.  No essays, no discussion, no policy statement.  In particular, as it was Charlotte Goiar who recommended this site to us, there is no mention at all of HBS.

There is also Harry Benjamin Ressurssenter (see also Wikipedia page).  By their similar names, one would assume that the two groups are related, but neither web site mentions the other.

Who are The Harry Benjamin Resource Centre Europe?

With only one exception, all the board are Norwegian.

  • The president is Thore Langfeldt.   Here is his Wikipedia page.  His major works are: Sexologi ,1993, Barns seksualitet (Child Sexuality),2000, and Erotikk og fundamentalisme: Fra mesopotamia til kvinnefronten (Erotica and fundamentalism: from Mesopotamia to the women’s  movement),2005.  He was active in the paedophila study group, Pedofil Arbeidsgruppe, in the 1970s, and was a defence witness for Erik Andersen, Norway’s most prominent sex crime convict.
  • The vice president is Ingvill Størksen, an advisor to the Norwegian Centre Party.  She has published on gay and lesbian youth and on living with AIDS.
  • Board member Ira Haraldsen is a psycho-endocrinologist who studies Gonadotropin Releasing  Hormone Receptor Blockage and brain development.
  • Board member Olav Bendiksby is writing a PhD on “young violent sex offenders in psychoanalytically oriented intensive psychotherapy”.
  • Board member Tone Maria Hansen is a trans woman, a sociologist, a co-founder and chair of Landsforeningen for transseksuelle, now known as  the Harry Benjamin Ressurssenter in 2000.  She is in WPATH and gave a paper at IFGE in 2003.
  • Board member Richard Green is research director at the Charing Cross Hospital Gender Identity Clinic.

The Harry Benjamin Resource Centre Europe is a tentative organization of academics, who, with the exception of Hansen and Green, have little experience with trans people.  It is yet to be seen what will come out of it.

What is strange is that Charlotte Goiar endorses HBRCE.   There is not the slightest indication that HBRCE will endorse HBS.


Trans Health - Trans Human Rights said...

I think the HBRCE is going to give WPATH a run for it's money in Europe and I see this as a reaction against the more liberal trends in WPATH such as the use of the term Transgender and to the recent statements by WPATH Board of directors that surgical interventions should not constitute a requirements for legal gender reconition and that GID is to a mental/psychiatric disorder.

Most ofthe Norwegian board members were active in organizing WPATH:s Bienal 22nd Symposion in Oslo 2009 which I also attended.

At the Symposion as well as during the preparation there were a clear divison between propnents of a more modern approach to the treatment of trans* people and the old school who want to restrict treatment for gender reasignement to true transsexuals.

This is my very personal opinion and not neccesarily the opinons of the organsations I serve on.

Ms. Maria Sundin B Sc SW
Member of the Board RFSL
Secretary TGEU
WPATH Membership Committee

Jack Molay said...

I have been in touch with HBRC and Thore Langfeldt. He says he has never heard about Harry Benjamin Syndrome International, and that there is no connection between the two.

Given that Mr. Langfeldt is a highly respected Norwegian sexologist, that makes perfect sense to me.

Jack Molay said...

There is an interesting article on the Harry Benjamin Resource Centre in an article published in Tidsskrift for den norske legeforening (the periodical of the Norwegian Doctor's Association) written by the doctors Tor Folgerød and Tone Hellesund. (Google translation here!).

They argue that the Resource Centre is an heteronormative organization of the separatist kind. The organization is for people who go through "gender reaffirming treatments" only, and they do not consider themselves part of the LGBT movement.

Folgerød and Hellesund point to their strong focus on genital reconstruction, and the idea that a woman is understood as a person who can be penetrated vaginally. The centre is therefore in opposition to the broader transgender movement. Indeed, on their home page they deny that there is any connection between crossdressers and transsexuals at all.

Folgerød and Hellesund draw a line between the ideology of the Resource Centre and the one found at the gender identity clinic at the Oslo University Hospital, which is the only hospital performing sex reassignment surgery in Norway and which also determines whether someone can get their gender affirmed legally.They indicate that the ideology of the clinic is a conservative as the one found at the Resource Centre.

The World Health Organization now argues that Norway is violating the basic human rights of transgender persons by giving the clinic the power to decide who is in and who is out. Their main complaint is that sterilization should not be required to get your gender redefined legally. Amnesty International is currently running campaign targeting the Norwegian government, arguing that it should be up to the individual to determine its legal gender.

The new conservative government is expected to change the policy in a more liberal direction, opening up for legal recognition outside the health system.