Gender change law soon in Argentina: rights group

By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 21 2012 02:57 PM | Updated as of Apr 21 2012 10:57 PM

BUENOS AIRES CITY, Argentina - A proposal to allow citizens to change their gender and name in public records may become law in Argentina next month—a first in Latin America.

Pedro Paradiso Sotille, secretary for legal affairs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights group Comunidad Homosexual Argentina, said the Gender Identity Bill would likely be passed this May because of the support of many senators, and no less than President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Pending in Congress since 2007, the bill hurdled Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies in December last year, with majority (167-17) voting in favor of it. It is now being debated in the Senate.
If it becomes law, the bill is seen to benefit not only Argentina’s transsexuals or those who have had sex reassignment surgery.
“You don’t have to have a surgery to be able to do it,” Sotille said in an interview. “And without that restriction, this law actually wants to allow surgeries to happen.”
Sotilla said the bill is premised on the principle that gender is an internal experience that may or may not match one’s biological sex.
Under the proposed measure, anyone who wants to change his or her gender and name no longer has to get a court order and comply with stringent requirements. He or she just has to go the Registro Naciona de las Personas (National Registry of Persons) with a request. Those below 18 have to get the consent of legal representatives, like parents and guardians.
The new gender and name will be used in one’s birth certificate, national identity card, and other government records.
The bill also requires government to subsidize the cost of surgery, hormone treatment, and other medical procedures for those who wish to have physical sex change.
Sotilla said the bill’s passage would be a giant step forward for the LGBT rights movement in Argentina. It has made great strides in recent years, particularly the enactment of a law in 2010 allowing same-sex couples all over the country to marry and enjoy the social benefits that heterosexual couples get.