Camille Auer Exhibition – Trans in Finland

Today’s Helsinki Sanomat had a huge feature on Finnish trans artist, Camille Auer. Her photo took up the whole of the front page of the culture section, and there was a big article inside which is reproduced on their website (in Finnish, obviously). Naturally I had to visit the show.

The exhibition is fairly small, and is mostly installations, which may or may not be your cup of tea. The two biggest are both about the process of medical transition. One is made up of empty packaging from the vast amounts of medication that trans people have to take. It might not seem much on any one day, but it builds up quickly through your life. The other is made from (heavily redacted) letters from various medical people. They are all in Finnish, but I knew the sort of things they’d say.

Trans medicine is evolving slowly, and these days most Western doctors don’t think that merely being trans makes you insane. However, in order to get treatment, you have to prove that you are mentally disturbed because you are unable to live in your assigned gender. It is a degrading process.

In Finland things are worse on at least two counts. Firstly the country has naming laws, so if you want to change your name you have to apply for permission. Secondly, because Finland’s law about changing your legal gender is very old, it is necessary to prove that you are infertile before you can do so. That’s not necessary in the UK because our law is more modern (though still very much lacking compared to the newer Irish law).

Any trans people passing through Helsinki for Worldcon might want to pop in to give Camille some support, but mostly I hope that lots of Finnish people check it out. Their laws need an overhaul.

The exhibition, rather delightfully titled Antiphallic Dick, is at the Project Room at Lönnrotinkatu 35. It is open from 11:00-18:00.