Argentina took two giant steps forward for trans equality yesterday, approving legislation that both ensures insurance coverage for transition-related medical care and at the same time eliminates medical requirement for official recognition of one’s gender identity.The law, backed by President Cristina Fernandez, passed the nation’s Senate Wednesday by a vote of 55-0, with one abstention and a dozen lawmakers declaring themselves absent. The move by South America’s third most populous nation, follows the course of neighboring Uruguay as well as others including Spain, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, in providing for legal recognition of trans people’s identities without requiring specific medical procedures or a burdensome and potentially arbitrary judicial process.
The new law begins by stating that all persons have the right to the free development and recognition of their gender identity and to be treated in accord with that identity in the way they are officially identified. The law creates an official administrative procedure where by any adult, or any minor with the support of their guardians, may apply to change their sex listed in the civil registry. Neither judicial approval nor proof of specific psychological or medical treatments is required. Hormonal and surgical treatment for transgender people – which previously often required a court’s approval – will now be freely available and must be covered by public and private health plans. Thus, the law reflects the principle that individuals should control both their own identities and their own bodies, and should neither have unwanted medical procedures imposed on them nor have medically necessary ones denied. (A full English translation of the law is not yet available; this description is based on the official Spanish version.)
This law reflects the hard work of trans and LGBT advocates in Argentina as well as the growing trend of recognition for trans people’s identities and medical needs internationally.