ILGA World is saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Maria Sundin, a pioneer human rights defender from Sweden whose work has been crucial to advance trans rights in Sweden, in Europe and globally. She was 75 years old.
Maria had served as a co-chair of Transgender Europe (TGEU), and has been a powerful activist who has supported, mentored and inspired many across the world. Her tireless work and advocacy for the depathologisation of trans identities contributed to historic advances: in 2013, Sweden removed the mandatory legal requirement of sterilisation and recognised the harm and trauma committed on trans persons, and in 2017 became the first country worldwide to introduce legislation that would grant reparations through financial compensation as a gesture towards healing.
“Maria has been a fundamental presence at ILGA World conferences, too, and has been among the driving forces who opened spaces for discussions about trans human rights globally,” said Jabulani Pereira, Chair of ILGA World’s Trans Committee. “Maria had the opportunity to mentor many in our movement for decades, sharing stories and experiences that might have been lost otherwise. She never shied away from this commitment, knowing that transphobic violence deprives too many in our communities of the same possibility. Today we honour her legacy.”
“I had the privilege to work with Maria for many years - as a colleague on the board, as a boss and as a friend. She truly was a ‘badass’ - as she liked to call herself, always had a good story to tell and never lost her laugh. She worked tirelessly to advance trans rights and mentored many of us - including me. I am grateful for that and will miss her truly and deeply”, said Julia Ehrt, Director of Programmes at ILGA World.
"What a sad day for the trans movement worldwide as we grapple with Maria's passing. Maria has made enormous contributions to our movement, she was a force in trans rights activism, a mentor to many and a formidable woman who reminded me to not waste our time "shaking in vain the branch that bears no fruit"! said Tuisina Ymania Brown, ILGA World Co-Secretary General.
Many in our global community have taken to social media to celebrate what Maria Sundin meant to them and to our global movement. Read some of the posts below.
Fierce, mighty, brilliant, funny in the most bizarre way, Maria would crack you up while the room is in some heated...
Posted by Jabulani Chen Pereira on Saturday, January 30, 2021
Maria Sundin, a true legend of the European trans movement has passed away.
I don’t even have the words to express...
Posted by Wiktor Dynarski on Friday, January 29, 2021