Argentina’s Gender Identity Law
Have you heard about the new Gender Identity Law in Argentina? It passed over a week ago, but I can still hardly believe it. Here’s why it’s so amazing:
–Anybody will be able to change the name and gender marker on their ID through a simple administrative procedure. That’s it. No need for a judge’s permission, no need for psychiatric approval, no need for any body modifications.
–People who do want to modify their body will have the right to have hormones and surgery covered by their health insurance (or by the public health system, if they’re uninsured).
–There’s a special clause to protect the rights of trans youths: if a kid’s parents were unsupportive, a judge would intervene in the best interest of the child.
This law was passed almost unanimously in the Senate last Wednesday (May 9th). Nobody voted against it, though one senator abstained from voting and several senators were absent, probably because they would’ve looked bad if they voted against (now, that’s cultural change — it’s finally frowned upon to be against trans rights!)
Every account of this law mentions that it’s the most progressive piece of trans-related legislation in the world because, among other things, it avoids pathologization completely (trans identities are not described as an illness). I’m really happy, not only for Argentina, but because it raises the bar for trans rights everywhere.
Also, I think it’s a source of hope — after all, Argentina doesn’t have a great history with trans issues. Just a few years ago, when I started transitioning, it was impossible to change your ID without genital surgery. During the 90’s, many trans women and travestis suffered and died due to police persecution. The statistics for trans people –unemployment, school drop-out rate, life expectancy– are still dismal. It goes to show that countries can change, though legal rights are just the beginning. Things can get better when there’s a large movement willing to take on the fight.
That’s another thing I love about this law. It doesn’t put trans people in a passive place of suffering, illness or victimization. It wasn’t written by doctors, psychiatrists or condescending allies. The text of the law was written largely by the trans movement. The very process of passing this bill acknowledged the trans community as a force to be reckoned with. All the large LGB organizations backed the law, but trans leaders and organizations were at the heart of the process. I find that very empowering. It’s a shift from a place of despair to a place of anger. Beware, enemies of “the trans”, lest you unleash la furia travesti!