Argentina passes historic Gender Identity bill
The Argentine Senate approved a Gender Identity law on May 9 that will allow transgender people access to sex change surgery, hormone therapy, and chosen gender designation changes on their ID. The law puts the country far ahead of Québec and Canada, where an ID change still hinges on surgery.
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Argentina has been known as a progressive nation for LGBTs since approving gay marriage in 2010, and now their reputation just took another leap forward: the Gender Identity bill was approved 55-0 in the national Senate on Wednesday (May 9), allowing free access to sex reassignment surgery, gender designation and name changes, and creating a Gender Identity Office to accept applications for the above. The new law would place Argentina in line with Uruguay, which passed a similar law in 2009.
The right to self-identify
“Identity rights are directly and inextricably linked to the right to health, to intimacy, to the protection of life and the right to not be discriminated against,” the text of the law’s principles states. The law will allow anyone who wishes to change their sex, given name or image to correspond to their chosen gender, without having to undergo sex reassignment surgery, or obtain the authorization from a judge to do so. Instead, there will be a special Gender Identity Office set to review applications, which will have 90 days in which to respond to any request for a gender designation or given name change on the civil registry.
Presented in the Argentine Congress since 2007, the bill received sweeping approval from the Senate, and well as from President Christina Fernandez, who is expected to sign it into law officially in the coming days.
For María Rachid, president of the Federación Argentina LGBT, the bill was part of a national plan to “end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and to obtain equality for LGBT people.” The Federation, which was active in lobbying for the law, represents 24 queer and trans organizations across the country. Gay and lesbian activists who witnessed the winning vote, including Comunidad Homoseual Argentina (CHA)’s Pedro Paradiso Sottile, stood and applauded in the balcony of the Senate on Wednesday.
The legal coordinator for CHA, Sottile said via his organization’s website that the Senate’s passing of the law “is an historic and crucial event for the community and the entire society. It affirms the principles of inclusive democracy, the National Constitution, and Human Rights, while celebrating diversity. It is an active of justice, a cry for freedom and dignity, to end the exclusion and discrimination faced by citizens because of their self-defined gender identity in its various expressions.”
Québec and Canada?
Many trans activists would see the Argentine law as a potential template for Canada and Québec, where name and gender designation changes are dependant on sex reassignment surgery, and other bureaucratic and medical barriers.
While Passport Canada admitted earlier this week that the possibility of adding a third gender “X” on Canadian ID papers was “under review,” Québec’s Justice Minister Fournier said through his press attaché that the possibility of allowing trans people to make the changes without having to undergo surgery may be reconsidered as well. Just last month, the Ontario Human Rights Commission struck down the surgery requirements for name and gender designation changes, saying that the requirement were discriminatory towards a traditionally disadvantaged group.