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For the First Time, Sweden Will Have An Out Trans Minister in Government

Lina Axelsson Kihlblom, skolminister, Utbildningsdepartementet
Magnus Liljegren/Government Offices of Sweden

Sweden has a new Prime Minister, and she’s making sure the government is more diverse, too.

Incoming PM Magdalena Andersson recently announced her new Minister for Schools, Lina Axelsson Kihlblom, as part of her government formed on November 30. Besides being known as “Super-principal,” a la Supernanny for her role consulting low-scoring schools on how to improve in a TV series known as Rektorerna (“The Headteachers”), and having over 20 years experience in education, Kihlblom is going to become the first out trans minister in the country’s history.

Currently 51 years-old, Kihlblom will also be the first out trans woman to have a position in the government for a Scandinavian country, according to the Star-Observer.

“This is a huge and exciting task and I’m ready to take it on,” Axelsson Kihlblom said at Andersson’s press conference introducing her government.

Before politics, Axelsson Kihlblom was the principal of Ronnaskolan, a Swedish elementary school “known for struggling with disadvantaged students,” according to the Star-Observer, and raised the high school promotion eligibility rate of students there by 20 percent in just three years.

She first came out at age 19 and began transitioning then, and by 1995 she was forced to undergo sterilisation procedures that were mandatory due to a now-unconstitutional law. “I went through a surgery where the state made sure that none of my unique genes would ever be reproduced, she recounted in 2015 to the Expressen. “I remember there were tears but I did not know if it was tears of pain or because I was so enormously humiliated.”

Still, she and her former husband, Roger Kihlblom, adopted and have raised two children beginning in 2007.

“I want to own my story, because it’s a pretty beautiful story. It is about taking your destiny into your own hands and making something beautiful out of it,” she said.

A member of Andersson’s Social Democratic Party, Axelsson Kihlblom served on the Swedish School Commission working toward improving schools since 2015, and she has worked on laws in the European Union and 

She wrote a book entitled Kommer du tycka om mig nu? (Will You Love Me Now?) in 2015, which won a Gaygalan Award for Book of the Year in 2016, among other accolades.

While the Social Democrats and Andersson will lead the government, they will work as a minority government, meaning the opposition parties — seven in total currently with elected officials — outnumber the Social Democrat representatives in Sweden’s legislature. The government is also only in formation due to the resignation of previous PM Stefan Löfven, a Social Democrat who lost the confidence and support of several politicians. The next election is scheduled for September 2022.

So the cabinet will not have long and their job will not be easy, but Axelsson Kihlblom still looks forward to it.

“I feel extremely proud and honored that Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has given me the confidence to be a school minister in her government,” she said in a statement after the announcement.

“My conviction is that all children can succeed in school,” she added.

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