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Argentina: Lawmakers Approve Gender Identity Law

[All links lead to Spanish-language websites unless otherwise noted]

On May 9, 2012, after two hours of debate, the Argentine Senate approved the Law of Gender Identity with 55 votes in favor and 1 abstention. The law recognizes the right of transsexual people to an identity that corresponds with their expression of gender.

The publication AG Magazine recounted the history behind the push for such a law:

El proyecto de ley de Identidad de Género ingresó por primera vez al Parlamento argentino de la mano de la Federación Argentina LGBT y la Asociación de Travestis, transexuales y transgéneros de Argentina (ATTTA) en el año 2007. El texto aprobado, que es el mismo que obtuviera media sanción en Diputados en noviembre de 2011, contempla el reconocimiento de la identidad de las personas trans en su documentación personal, así como el acceso a la atención sanitaria integral en el sistema de Salud.

The plan for a Gender Identity law was submitted for the first time to the Argentine Parliament by the Argentinian LGBT Federation and the Association of Transvestites, Transsexuals and Transgender People of Argentina (ATTTA) in the year 2007. The approved text, which is the same as the one that obtained preliminary approval in the lower house of Congress in November 2011, provides for the recognition of the identity of transgender people in their personal documentation, as well as access to comprehensive health care within the health care system.

The National Front for the Gender Identity Law (FNLIG), formed in 2010 with the purpose of working toward the passage of the law, commented on the reason why it is so important on their website:

photo: Laura Schneider

Con este paso, Argentina inicia el proceso de reparación histórica y democrática con toda la población trans del país, cuyos derechos más elementales, como el derecho a la identidad y a la salud integral, han sido sistemáticamente vulnerados. El proyecto prevé tanto el acceso a los cambios registrales como el acceso integral a la salud. Este tratamiento no diferido de todos los derechos enunciados fue el logro más importante que sostenemos desde el Frente Nacional por la Ley de Identidad de Género (FNLIG), que elaboró el proyecto en el que fue basado el dictamen firmado tanto por las comisiones de diputadxs como de senadorxs.

With this passage, Argentina begins the process of historic and democratic reparation with the entire trans population in this country, whose most elemental rights, such as the right to identity and to comprehensive health care, have been systematically vulnerable. The law provides both access to registry changes and access to comprehensive health care. Having treatment that is no different than what all stated rights mandate was the most important success that keeps us going here at the National Front for the Gender Identity Law (FNLIG), which devised the law in which was based on the signed opinion of both the lower house commissions and the senators.

Access to comprehensive health care

One of the items in the new law to consider is access to comprehensive health care, which includes access for those over 18 years old to partial and total surgical interventions and/or comprehensive hormonal treatments to alter the body, including genitalia, without the need of obtaining judicial or administrative permission.

The webpage for the Ministry of Health for the Province of Buenos Aires, whose province was a pioneer in sexual reassignment surgery, posted an interview with the Provincial Minister of Health, Alejandro Collia:

“La Provincia es pionera en garantizar, a través del acceso a la salud pública, el derecho de las personas a su identidad de género. La adecuación genital a la identidad de género percibida por cada persona es un derecho que venimos garantizando desde el hospital Gutiérrez”, afirma el ministro de Salud provincial, Alejandro Collia.

El Hospital Gutiérrez de la Provincia es el único efector público, junto con el Hospital Duran en la ciudad de Buenos Aires, en realizar cirugías de reasignación genital.

The Province is a pioneer in guaranteeing, through access to public health care, people's right to their gender identity. The conforming of genitalia to perceived gender identity for each person is a right that we continue guaranteeing within the Gutiérrez hospital,” the Provincial Minister of Public Health Alejandro Collia, affirmed.

The Provincial Gutiérrez Hospital is the only public provider, together with the Duran Hospital in the city of Buenos Aires, to perform genital reassignment surgeries.

One of the first criticisms, [es] before the law's approval, came from Daniel Fernández, bishop of the Diocese of Jujuy, in Argentina:

“La iglesia desde un principio hizo conocer su opinión, creemos que el ser humano es creado por Dios, varón o mujer, que viene constituido con nuestra naturaleza humana y a partir de ahí queremos empezar a dialogar, con respeto, sin ningún tipo de intolerancia, manifestando nuestra opinión, que en este caso, es contraria a la de tantos”, ha manifestado el religioso.

“La identidad viene dada por el sexo que recibimos y por la identidad que traemos desde el seno de nuestra madre”, defendió el obispo argentino, condenando el avance de la Ley de Identidad de Género.

“The church from the beginning has made its opinion known, we believe that the human being is created by God, male or female, and comes established with our human nature and from there we want to start to dialogue, with respect, without any type of intolerance, expressing our opinion, that in this case, it is contrary to that of many”, the bishop has said.

“Identity is given from the sex that we receive and from the identity that we take from our mother's womb”, the Argentine bishop said, condemning the advance of the Law of Gender Identity.

On the other side, the blog Unificacionistas, in its post “Equality for few” wrote about the rights of minorities in Argentina:

de seguro las minorías irían rápidamente por más y más derechos, ya que se ve hoy día un terreno más que fértil para conseguir esas leyes que durmieron en oscuros cajones por décadas. A pesar de criticar las formas, en mi caso y en el de muchos, avalamos en principio que todo ciudadano tenga derechos y sea contemplado como un igual por otros ciudadanos ante la ley. El problema es que, me temo, esa igualdad no pareciera ser aplicable en todos los casos.

for sure the minorities would quickly go for more and more rights, inasmuch that nowadays one can see that the ground is more than fertile for acquiring those laws which slept in dark drawers for decades. Despite criticizing the form, in my case and in the case of many, we endorse in principle that every citizen has rights and is considered equal to other citizens in the eyes of the law. The problem is that, I fear, that equality would not be applicable in all cases.

Reactions on social networking sites

Once word spread of the law's passage, users across the social networking spectrum echoed the reactions of the citizenry. Some, such as Juancho (@Juanx1984), want more rights, while Jose Castiglione (@JoseCastiglione) wrote:

Me parece una aberración la Ley de#IdentidadDeGenero. Que me disculpen los q resulten ofendidos por el comentario, pero esto es INADMISIBLE

The Law of #IdentidadDeGenero [Gender Identity] seems to me to be an aberration. To those who are offended by the comment, pardon me, but this is INADMISSIBLE.

However, Paulo Yudewitz (@Pauloyudewitz) celebrated the law's approval:

#IdentidadDeGenero Felicidades para todos! Otro día histórico!

#IdentidadDeGenero [Gender Identity] Congratulations to all! Another historic day!

Finally, on Facebook the page “I am in favor of the law of gender identity” celebrated:

Amig@s, es imposible transmitir toda la alegría que sentimos por esta conquista!

Friends, it is impossible to relate just how much happiness we feel because of this victory!

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