Spain votes on trans rights bill that has split the left

22 Dec 2022 12:41pm
Image for illustrative purposes only - FILE PIX
Image for illustrative purposes only - FILE PIX
MADRID - Lawmakers vote Thursday on a transgender rights bill that allows anyone 16 and over to change gender on their ID card, legislation that has sparked divisions within Spain's left-wing government and its feminist movement.

The draft bill effectively simplifies the procedure for changing gender on a person's national identity card, allowing them to request the change based on a simple statement.

But the text has sparked a bitter dispute among activists in Spain's powerful feminist lobby and LGBTQ equality campaigners.

If it passes its first reading on Thursday, the bill will move to the Senate and if left unchanged, as expected, will become law within weeks.

It would make Spain one of the few countries in the world to allow transgender people to change their status with a simple declaration.

In Europe, Denmark was the first country to grant such a right in 2014.

Until now, only adults have been allowed to request the change in Spain and have had to provide a medical report attesting to gender dysphoria and proof of hormonal treatment for two years.

But the new law would drop that requirement and allow anyone from age 16 to freely change their designated sex on their ID card. Even those as young as 12 could apply but only under certain conditions.

After submitting the request, the applicant must confirm the demand three months later, then it will become valid.
Related Articles:

The legislation is one of the flagship projects of the equality ministry which is held by Podemos, the radical left-wing junior partner in Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialist-led coalition.

"At last this law depathologises trans lives and guarantees trans people's rights," said Equality Minister Irene Montero, a strong advocate of gender self-identification who has been robust in her approach to any opposition.

"Today the feminist majority in this House responds to transphobia."

Adopted by the cabinet in June 2021, the bill has sparked tensions between Podemos, the driving force behind the legislation, and the Socialists who have tried in vain to modify it.

It has also divided the feminist movement between those supporting Montero and the powerful feminist lobby allied with the Socialists who are implacably opposed to the text.

"The state has to provide answers for transgender people, but gender is neither voluntary nor optional," said Carmen Calvo, who was Sanchez's former deputy and headed the equality ministry when it was held by the Socialists.

"When gender is asserted over biological sex, it does not seem to me to be a step forward in a progressive direction; it seems to be a step backwards," she told the El Mundo newspaper in September.

Activists fear the law will be open to abuse and erode women's rights, allowing men who self-identify as women to compete in women's sport or request a transfer to women's prisons.

They have also raised the alarm about minors having the right to self-determine gender -- with parental authorisation from the age of 14 and with both parental and judicial approval from 12.

Although the Socialists pushed for an amendment that would have extended judicial authorisation to include 14 to 15-year-olds, it was ultimately rejected in what was widely seen as a victory for Montero and Podemos.

Tensions around the legislation prompted Socialist LGBTQ activist Carla Antonelli - the first and only trans woman to serve as a lawmaker - to resign from the party after decades of activism.

"One more step and it will be law, the triumph of reason over hatred," she tweeted on Wednesday. - AFP
More Like This