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Trans in Argentina

January 20, 2011

You may have heard that marriage equality was approved in Argentina last July, granting full rights –including adoption– to LGBTQ couples. Well, trans rights might be next in line — they’ll be discussed in Congress in the next few months! The proposed laws would allow us to change our legal gender without surgery, hormones, or a diagnosis of gender identity disorder. Furthermore, they’d legalize genital reassignment surgery, and have it covered by health insurance and the public health system. I don’t know if all of these laws will pass, but I’m really hopeful.

To understand how important this is, consider the present legal situation of trans people. In Argentina, your name has to be in accordance to your legal gender, which you can’t change unless your body matches up with a cis person’s. So, to make my male name official, I’d have to change my gender marker, but to do so I’d have to take hormones, get top surgery, have a hysterectomy, and get some sort of penis through surgery. But genital reassignment surgery is forbidden, so first I’d have to sue the State to have it allowed in my particular case; and that trial would involve invasive examinations by doctors and psychiatrists. The upside? If you win the trial, the public health system will cover your operation. The downside? Uh, almost everything — the requisite of body modification, the disempowerment of the citizen to decide for hirself, the cost and toil of suing the State.

Some people have managed to dodge the requirements, though, for instance by promising to get surgery but not getting it. As more and more people win their trials, rulings are getting ever more flexible — some judges don’t require surgery, others ditched the need for a diagnosis, and now a trans man managed to win his case without being on hormones.

Something similar happened with gay marriage — before the law changed, several judges started approving individual marriages until a new law seemed almost inevitable. Also, gay issues became more visible at that point and they started being openly debated by society. Now it’s happening with trans issues: not only are these trials appearing in the media, but there are openly trans people on TV (the latest edition of Big Brother includes a trans male who is by far the most popular contestant).

If all the laws pass, Argentina will have the best legislation in the world on trans matters. It won’t change everything –discrimination wouldn’t immediately end– but it would be one heck of a start.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2011 1:03 am

    Pretty impressive! Hope it all works out because the current situation is absolutely unacceptable. To have to get bottom surgery, or any medical intervention at all, to be able to change one’s gender designation is an assault to dignity. In Quebec, you don’t necessarily need “all” the surgeries but you need hormones and some form of surgery at least. For trans guys, a hysto and for trans women, I think they require vaginoplasty. We’re working to get that changed but it’s very slow.

  2. Terry permalink
    January 21, 2011 9:33 am

    This is fantastic :D I also hope that all laws will pass and after reading this I’m seriously tempted to move to Argentinia…

  3. January 21, 2011 4:47 pm

    Wow what an exciting time! I’ll be sure to keep myself informed over the next few months and hope for the best. Thanks for this post!

  4. Meike permalink
    January 24, 2011 12:51 pm

    Oh goodness, that’s so exciting! I’m so happy for you, I really hope it works out in Argentina. I’m severely jealous, I wish the US would get more on the ball with that.

  5. January 24, 2011 10:54 pm

    Thanks so much for linking up to my blog. I have updated both entries I have written about Alejandro to include this blog post. I will also probably d a third entry sometime soon, considering some of the recent developments in the ‘Gran Hermano’ house. Thank you.

  6. genderkid permalink*
    February 6, 2011 12:16 am

    Thanks for all your good wishes for Argentina! I have to point out, though, that I limited my post to legal and formal issues. The socio-economic reality is dismaying, especially for travestis (a trans-feminine identity specific to Latin America): one study found that 80% do sex work for a living, and their life expectancy is often cited to be between 33 and 40 years (versus 75 years for the whole of Argentina). The travesti identity is mostly adopted by working-class people, so it’s the worst-hit group, but it’s still outrageous.

    New laws regarding name changes will help –for many people I know, having the “wrong” ID is the only obstacle to getting a job (especially trans men and women with passing privilege, money for hormones, etc)–, and laws covering medical treatment will be even better, allowing for a much wider access to trans health care; but many people will still be left out unless social attitudes change. Although that holds true across the globe.

  7. February 19, 2011 6:59 am

    To change your gender in Germany you have to be “infertile.” Moreover, it gets more complicated if you do have children, and often you have to go back to your “assigned” gender. This is outrageous, the government is basically dictating your reproductive rights based on your gender status.

    In Mexico it used to take years to get a legal gender change. It appears that a new law in the capital has made it a little easier, now probably taking weeks and requiring less money. I only read about this recently, so I’m not too familiar.

    We are making strides every day, but we have a long ways to go.

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