Contrary to the common misconception, the Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital often experiences very confident young people who appear sure of their cause, Frisén told Swedish national broadcaster SVT.
"It is so incredibly painful to live in a body one fails to recognize as his or her own. It should not be forgotten that it is also associated with mental illness and a very high suicide risk in case of failure to get access to gender-affirmative therapy," Frisén told SVT.
The upsurge in gender identity investigations has raised important issues that have been seldom encountered before. Since this group is prone to mental illness, it is important that they receive medical help in good time. However, in Sweden it is not permitted to prescribe sex hormones until the age of 16. Consequently, one must wait until 18 to be able to undergo surgery and legally change gender.
"More young people may be coming now, because awareness has increased and now they dare. Besides, other community trends may be the reason. More and more people are exploring their gender identity as part of their personality development," Frisén said.
Curiously, more girls are instigating gender identity investigations than boys. In 2015, 94 girls, as opposed to 22 boys started the process.
LGBT rights in Sweden have long been regarded as some of the most liberal in Europe and in the world. Same-sex sexual activity was legalized in 1944, whereas homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness in 1979. Sweden also became the first country in the world to allow transgender persons to change their legal gender after sex reassignment surgery in 1972, the same year that transvestism was declassified as an illness. After allowing same-sex couples to register for partnership benefits in 1995, Sweden legalized same-sex marriage countrywide in 2009. Since 2003, gay and lesbian couples can adopt children, and lesbian couples have had equal access to in vitro fertilization and assisted insemination since 2005.