By Mauro Cabral*
On April 24, 2012 the Senate Committees on General Legislation and on Population and Development signed in Buenos Aires an agreement that authorizes the discussion on the Gender Identity Law at the Argentine Senate to proceed. The law has been approved preliminarily, receiving the support of the majority in the Chamber of Deputies. On November 30, 2011, 167 Deputies voted for the Law, only 17 deputies voted against and seven abstained. The final discussion on the Law provision at the Senate is scheduled for May 9, 2012.
The Gender Identity Law that is being discussed by Argentinean Senators is unique in whole world. The provision will grant legal recognition of gender identity to all. Anybody may request it through an administrative procedure, without requiring a diagnosIS or any medical procedure, such as hormone treatments or surgical procedures. It also fully respects the sexual and reproductive rights of those requesting gender recognition, as it does not require proof of sterility. Furthermore, the law does not require either the dissolution of previous marriages and does noT affect parenting rights. The law goes still further in ensuring the right of access to body modifications related to gender identity – such as surgery and hormone treatment – for which the only requisite is the informed consent of those who request these body modification. The law, as it has been written, de-judicializes and de-pathologizeS the full recognition of gender identity.
If approved, Argentina will have a Gender Identity Law in compliance with the Yogyakarta Principles – which have, in fact, provideD the initial basis for the elaboration of the law. Thus, the Argentinean law will become an example that the realization of the Yogyakarta Principles is feasiblet today. The approval of the current text will also constitute an important contribution to the trans* movement’S work towards the repealing of gender identity laws which, even today, require compliance with requirements that are incompatible with human rights (such as the requirement of sterilization still on the books in the most European countries). The Gender Identity Law approved in by the Argentinean House of Representatives and, hopefully, soon also passed at the Senate, affirms what we have always believed to be possible: the full recognition of gender identity without having been forced to pay the cost of abdicating from other rights.
The text of the law was constructed on the basis of different provisions on the subject presented to the Parliament over the past few years – by both parliament members and sexual diversity organizations. Its final structure follows the guidelines proposed by the National Front for the Gender Identity, which affirms that the right to embody an identity is at the core of the right to gender identity. The process surrounding the new gender identity law exceeds by far the law itself. This is a historical process that allowed trans* communities in Argentina – which had been decimated by violence and discrimination, excluded from family life, education, health, work and housing, but also ridiculed, stigmatized and disregarded – to become the subjects of an unprecedented legal, social and political transformation.
*Mauro Cabral is Co-Director of GATE – Global Action for Trans* Equality.