Trans in Argentina
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.