By Oscar Lopez
Mexico City, Jan 9 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Brazil's independent medical regulator announced new rules for treating transgender patients on Thursday, including lowering the age when trans people can have gender reassignment surgery to 18 from 21 years old.
The Brazilian Federal Council of Medicine also set out guidelines for the use of puberty blockers for the first time to delay bodily changes in trans children and dropped the age requirement for hormone therapy to 16 from 18 years old.
"Comprehensive care for transgender people must take into account all their needs, guaranteeing access free of any kind of discrimination," said the resolution published in the country's Official Gazette.
The progressive rule changes were the latest in a string of advancements for trans people in the South American country.
Last year, the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled that transphobia and homophobia were criminal offences. A 2018 court ruling allowed trans people to change their name and gender on official documents without undergoing surgery.
The medical regulations, last updated in 2010, also promote psychological support for trans children and teenagers.
Advocates said they welcomed the new regulations, particularly lowering the age limit for surgery and the inclusion of rules for treating trans youth such as puberty blockers that can allow trans children and their families time to address issues of gender identity.
"This resolution is very important for us," said Symmy Larrat, president of the Brazilian Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transvestite and Transgender People.
"It's not the resolution of our dreams, but it's a big step forward," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The new rules in Brazil follow other efforts in the region to widen rights for trans young people. In 2018, Chile approved a law allowing people as young as 14 to change their name and gender in official records.
But despite the progress in Brazil, religious conservatism and violence have made it hostile to LGBT+ people.
The nation of some 200 million people had the highest number of trans murders globally last year - at 130 - in the 12 months ending in September, according to the Trans Murder Monitoring project.
The new guidelines came just days after Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro spoke out against what he called "gender ideology," a conservative term for progressive ideas on sex and gender.
"A father wants his son to be a man, his daughter to be a woman," said the president, who has been critical of expanded LGBT+ rights, during a live social media broadcast on Tuesday. (Reporting by Oscar Lopez @oscarlopezgib; editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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