In Spain, MPs pass controversial ‘transgender law’

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The Spanish deputies adopted, Thursday in first reading, a bill allowing the change of gender from the age of 16 years. A text which, if definitively adopted, will make Spain one of the few countries authorizing gender self-determination by a simple administrative declaration.

Changing gender on identity papers could soon become a simple administrative formality in Spain. A controversial bill was adopted at first reading, Thursday, December 22, by Spanish deputies, in order to facilitate the process for transgender people.

Battle horse of the radical left party Podemos, ally of the socialists in the government of Pedro Sanchez, this text was supported by 188 deputies while 150 voted against and 7 abstained.

If, as expected, it is definitively adopted by the Senate in the coming weeks, it will allow Spain to join the few countries in the world authorizing gender self-determination by a simple administrative declaration. In Europe, Denmark was the first country to grant this right to transgender people in 2014.

A simple appointment

Concretely, this text should allow transgender people to have their name and gender changed on their identity papers during a simple appointment with the administration. And this, without providing medical reports or proof of hormonal treatment followed for two years, as is the case today for adults in the country.

“This law repairs a historic debt of the State with regard to transgender people” and “depathologizes” them, declared Wednesday, before the deputies, the Minister for Equality, Irene Montero, standard bearer of this law.

“Trans women are women,” insisted this Podemos official, denouncing “transphobia”.

Called “trans law”, this text will also allow 14-16 year olds to freely change gender in civil status, provided that they are accompanied in the procedure by their legal guardians. 12-14 year olds will have to get the green light from the courts themselves. Currently, all minors must obtain this judicial authorization.

In all cases, a period of three months is provided between the filing of the application and its validation by the applicant so that he can confirm his decision to change gender.

Feminists Divided

Adopted by the Council of Ministers more than a year ago, this bill caused a split between Podemos, which made it a pillar of its government action and demanded express adoption, and the Socialists, who tried to modify the text, to no avail.

It also divided the feminist movement, between supporters of Irene Montero and historical activists, in open war against this text.

“To claim gender as being above biological sex (…) seems to me to be a setback” for women, denounced the former number two of the Sanchez government, Carmen Calvo, in a published by the daily El Monde in September.

“The state must give a response to transgender people but (biological) sex is neither voluntary nor optional,” she added, highlighting the legal risks induced by this law.

These historical feminists fear in particular that males who self-identify as women may participate in female sports competitions or be incarcerated in women’s prisons, for example.

Echoing these fears, the Socialists tabled an amendment to extend the obligation of a green light from justice to 14-16 year olds. But this was ultimately rejected.

“The biggest defeat of the Socialist Party”

This law “symbolizes the biggest legislative defeat of the Socialist Party against Podemos” since the formation of the executive in early 2020, wrote the conservative daily El Mundo, while El Pais (center-left) evokes for its part “a texts that have created the most tension within the coalition government”.

LGBT + activist and first transgender woman to be elected to a regional parliament in Spain, Carla Antonelli slammed the door of the Socialist Party in October with a bang to protest against her party’s desire to modify the bill.

“We have seen part of the Socialist Party and the feminist movement move from defending the rights of the trans minority to a relentless boycott of our existence,” she accused Thursday in a column published by El Pais.

Among other provisions, the bill adopted on Thursday also prohibits conversion therapy aimed at changing the sexual orientation of LGBT + people, with fines of up to 150,000 euros.

With AFP


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