Gender is a multi-dimensional concept. There are two legally recognised genders in Finland: female and male. A person’s gender is assigned as one of these at birth or after confirmation of gender. At the individual level, self-determination of gender, which means the perception and definition of a person’s own gender, is the most recommended way of understanding gender.

The gender of most people corresponds to the legal gender assigned to them at birth. They are referred to as cisgender or cis persons. A trans person is a general term for a person whose gender or gender expression differs from the gender assigned to them at birth. 

For example, the definition of trans is considered to include the concepts of

  • transgender 
  • transvestite
  • non-binary
  • agender.

An intersex person has physical gender characteristics that do not fit the typical definitions of male or female. Intersexuality is a natural anatomical variation in gender. 

The term gender minorities is also used to describe trans persons and intersex persons.

The Equality Act prohibits discrimination based on gender, gender identity and gender expression.
Equality Act

The promotion of gender equality often requires an intersectional approach. The concept of intersectionality describes how, in addition to gender, a person’s position in society is influenced by many other differences, such as social class, age, origin and sexual orientation. 

Gender studies research in Finland

Gender studies is a multidisciplinary approach. For example, scholars examine what gender means in society and how gender is linked to power and hierarchies.

Gender studies came to Finnish universities around the end of the 1970s, and its position as a separate subject gradually became established in Finland after the mid-1980s. Gender studies is offered at eight universities in Finland. The University of Tampere, University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University jointly coordinate a Master's Programme in Gender Studies, which is available in English. English language courses are also available at other universities.