The Spanish government today passed a bill on LGBTQ rights that allows transgender people over the age of 16 to freely change gender and name without interfering with others.
The bill could be changed in Parliament, but if its essence remained, Spain would join a handful of countries around the world that protect gender self-determination without requiring a person’s physical appearance to match traditional male or female characteristics.
It is proposed that the entry of this change in the official register be faster than in most countries: up to four months from the application to the change in the official documents. That process would be easily reversible for half a year, but then a change would require going to court.
The future regulation has been controversial from the beginning because it has been opposed by transgender rights activists and feminists who believe that the concept of biological sex is being obscured.
An internal struggle also opened up, within the ruling left-wing coalition, as the majority Socialists opposed self-determination along the lines of feminist activists, while the ruling partner’s younger partner, the far-left United We Can party, pushed hard for free, unsupervised gender rights. overcame the socialists.
The negotiations within the Government were “long and difficult”, said today Irene Montero, the Minister of Equality and a prominent official of the “United We Can” party. But finally, she added, a “giant step” has been taken to guarantee the rights of the LGBT community.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, the leader of the Socialists, said that the bill put Spain “at the head of the world” under LGBT rights. “We recognize everyone’s right to be what they want to be,” he wrote.
According to the bill, all Spanish citizens over the age of 16 will be able to change their gender and name by just expressing their wish twice. Previously, applicants needed a diagnosis from several doctors about “gender dissatisfaction” and, in some cases, proof that they had lived for two years as the gender they identified with, or even asked for data showing that they were taking hormones.
It is envisaged that children between the ages of 14 and 16 can also apply for a change of gender and name with the permission of their parents or by going to a judge if there is a disagreement between them. The court is included in applications for those between the ages of 12 and 14, and children under the age of 12 can only register a new name, but not change gender.
Transgender rights groups have been putting pressure on the government for months, organizing hunger strikes, proposing more ambitious regulations to parliament and calling on the organizers of Spain’s largest “Pride Parade” in Madrid to expel the Socialists from that annual march.