Spain considers making it easier to officially change gender

by Reuters
Wednesday, 3 February 2021 15:58 GMT

A person wearing a protective face mask attends a demonstration for the rights of transgender people, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Puerta del Sol square in Madrid, Spain, July 4, 2020. REUTERS/Juan Medina

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Spain joins a list of Western countries debating whether self-determination of gender is the only way to guarantee transgender equality

By Clara-Laeila Laudette

MADRID, Feb 3 (Reuters) - People in Spain wishing to change their official gender will no longer have to undergo medical and psychological exams or years of hormone treatment if a bill from the Equality Ministry on Wednesday is taken up by the government and becomes law.

Spain currently requires transgender people to have hormone treatment for two years before they can change their gender on administrative records, a precondition criticised by the European Court of Human Rights.

An official at the Equality Ministry, which is run by the far-left party Unidad Podemos, said the state should not "submit trans people to blackmail" in this way.

However, the news sites El Confidencial and elDiario said some ministers from Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialist party, Podemos' coalition partner, were not in favour of allowing people simply to declare their own gender.

Debates are taking place in many Western countries over whether self-determination of gender is the only way to guarantee transgender equality and avoid systemic abuse.

Some feminists argue that broadening access to gender identity could dilute women's fight against the structural disadvantages they face worldwide.

"This is the Equality Ministry's draft, but it's not the government's draft," a Socialist government source said, adding that other ministries still needed to make their views known.

"The state is working towards a text that provides normative quality and legal certainty."

The "Transgender Law" and its twin, the "LGBTI Law" will be ready for cabinet review by mid-February, the Equality Ministry said.

Spain's LGTB Federation and other associations defending transgender and non-binary rights welcomed the bills in a joint statement as "solid bases guaranteeing legal security on which to build strong legislation ... in favour of equal rights".

The new legislation would also afford parents of babies born with intersex characteristics one year before having to specify their child's sex on civil records, and prohibit gender-assignment surgery on infants, in line with international recommendations.

"Too often, these operations are done before intersex infants' gender has had time to manifest itself. They grow up, and it turns out they weren't operations but amputations," a second source at the Equality Ministry said.

(Reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette; additional reporting by Emma Pinedo and Belen Carreno; Editing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Kevin Liffey)