A TV interview with an able-bodied male-born finance worker who identifies as a woman who is paralysed from the waist down has sparked controversy in Norway.


What’s happening?

Jørund Viktoria Alme, 53, a senior credit analyst in Oslo, has no physical handicaps, but now identifies as a disabled woman. In an interview on 'Good Morning Norway' last week, the programme introduced Alme as someone who "uses a wheelchair even though her legs are completely healthy”, adding that the interview was conducted as the programme is “keen to create transparency around difficult topics”.


What was said?

Alme said it had been a life-long wish to have been born a woman paralysed from the waist down. Alme told the programme of experiencing "thoughts and reactions" from the age of five, triggered by certain situations such as when a fellow student arrived at school with a splint on his leg and crutches. “My reaction was one of intense interest,” Alme said. “My heart pounded, my pulse increased and I was activated in my body. I was incredibly focused on him and what this was all about…As I understand it in retrospect, it was a recognition of the situation and that it was I who should have been there.”



With partner Agnes for 31 years, and parents to two sons, five years ago, Alme began using a wheelchair, saying: “I had a very ‘aha’ experience when I got to sit in that chair. When my legs are allowed to rest completely, it stops the triggering of the BIID, so I get a lot of rest and can use my resources for other things.”



Alme says that as well as the ‘body integrity identify disorder’, five years ago also saw a moment of realisation that, the programme says, “she felt like a woman and had an intense desire to be paralysed from the waist down”. Alme said: “All this fell out gradually, and came one after the other. At the same time, there was so much shame and knots there…We have gone through this process together. Agnes has been fantastic.”


What does Agnes say?

She told GMN: “I have been, and perhaps still am, in an identity crisis. I suddenly don't have a man anymore - I have a lady. And it wasn't something I ever thought I'd get.”


What has the reaction been?

Asked if some people may think it “hair-raising that you, as an able-bodied woman, choose to sit in a wheelchair”, Alme said: “I hope that no one takes it badly that I use the wheelchair as an aid, because it helps me. I don't use any resources. For example, I do not use handicap parking, because I have no use for it in my situation.”



Social media lit up following the interview, with one Norwegian 18-year-old, Emma Sofie Grimstad, taking to TikTok to say she was wheelchair bound with Guillain-Barré for two months earlier this year, adding: “I was partially paralysed and remember that I had no other choice but to sit in a wheelchair. I was mostly carried around the house by my father. here is a person with functional legs who chooses to sit in a wheelchair. But there are so many who don’t have that choice. I was in such a helpless situation.” Noomi Alexandersen, 23, who has cerebral palsy, told the programme the interview made her angry: "There was far too much positive focus on a person with functional legs who chooses to sit in a wheelchair."