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Towards a gender identity law

December 1, 2011

A few hours ago, the lower house of Argentina’s Congress voted to pass a “gender identity law”. It still has to go through the Senate, but this is great news — especially because it passed with a whopping 167 ayes, only 17 nays and 7 abstentions. I watched the debate online and I could hardly believe my eyes when some of the most right-wing politicians spoke for the bill.

The proposed law is truly groundbreaking — it would allow us trans people to correct the name & gender marker on all our personal documentation without needing any medical/psychological approval or body modifications (so it wouldn’t pathologize trans identities). On top of that, health insurance and the public health system would have to cover hormones and surgery for those of us who do want them.

I was confident that the bill would pass, but I never imagined it would be so unanimous. In particular, I thought there would be more hesitance about putting money towards trans-specific health care, but that issue only came up once or twice in the debate (and someone quickly pointed out that it wouldn’t make a huge impact, financially). The only really controversial topic, as it turned out, was the inclusion of underage people in the bill.

This law won’t change everything for trans people –in several countries where ID changes are allowed, trans folks still struggle– but it is a huge step, especially if medical expenses are covered. And the trans community in Argentina has been undertaking beautiful, ambitious projects lately, which deserve an entire post and which give me much hope.

As a group of activists chanted in Congress today, “¡Alerta, alerta, alerta que caminan / travestis feministas por América Latina!” (“Watch out, feminist travestis are walking through Latin America!”)

For more details in English about the proposed law, here’s the Buenos Aires Herald article for today and here‘s a month-old article that nonetheless explains the bill in depth.

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