Spanish cabinet approves 'trans law' allowing ID sex change without medical report

Over 16s will be able to request change freely, over 12s with judge's approval, if bill passed by Congress

Barcelona celebrates Pride, June 25, 2022 (by Natàlia Segura)
Barcelona celebrates Pride, June 25, 2022 (by Natàlia Segura) / ACN

ACN | Madrid

June 27, 2022 06:12 PM

The Spanish cabinet has approved a transgender rights bill which will recognize people's right to gender self-determination.

The bill, which still has to be passed by the Spanish Congress, eliminates the requirements currently in place – two years of hormone therapy and a medical report – to change the sex stated on official identity cards (DNIs).

Anyone aged 16 or over will be able to freely request the change, which they must then ratify three months later. Once ratified, the change will be made official one month later, with the whole process therefore taking four months in total.

The new legislation means no approval is needed by witnesses ie. doctors or psychologists.

The change can be reversed in the first six months. Beyond that, any reversal requires judicial approval.

Under 16s

Parental approval will be required for 14 to 16-year-olds, with judges making a decision in the absence of agreement.

A judge will also be required to approve the decision of 12 to 14-year-olds changing their sex, while children aged 12 or younger will only be able to change their name, not their sex.

"Freer and more democratic"

The text of the bill has changed slightly since it first came before the cabinet around 12 months ago. One addition is the recognition of transgender migrants' right to change the sex of their documents issued in Spain if in their country of origin their rights as transgender people are not guaranteed.

Spain's equality minister, Irene Montero, said the legislation puts Spain at the "vanguard" of LGBTI rights, and makes it a "freer and more democratic" country.

The text tells LGTBI people that "their lives matter," Montero stressed.

The bill is expected to be voted on in Congress before the end of the summer.

Criticism

The bill was brought by Montero's party Podemos, the junior party in Spain's minority government, and was originally criticized by some members of the Socialists, who echoed arguments from sections of the feminist movement that say gender self-determination could lead to women facing disadvantages in certain areas, such as sport.

Spain's General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) also issued a critical opinion on the text of the bill, considering it to discriminate against non-transsexual women and asking for the minimum age to apply for a change in the sex officially registered to be raised to 18.

The Spanish ministry of equality made some modifications as a result of the report, which is mandatory but not binding, but did not modify the main aspects of the law.

LGTBI

The so-called trans law also addresses other issues affecting people across the LGBTI spectrum, for example, it expressly prohibits conversion therapies aimed at modifying people's sexual orientation.

It also states that intersex people, people born with male and female biological characteristics, have the right not to be mutilated at birth and that parents should not register them as being either male or female.

The bill also says that the partners of lesbian or bisexual mothers can be considered the same as biological mothers for administrative purposes, regardless of whether they are married. Until now they were forced to go through an adoption process.

The law also lays out a system of fines to prevent acts of discrimination. They range from €200 to €2,000 for infractions considered minor, such as insults or discriminatory messages, between €2,001 and €10,000 for serious infractions such as not hiring someone for being LGTBI or obstructing an inspection. Penalties for very serious conduct range from €10,001 to €150,000 for denying access to goods and services, such as renting a flat, by discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

A total of 284 LGBTI hate incidents were recorded in Catalonia in 2021, an increase of 50.3%, according to the Observatory Against Homophobia's (OCH) annual report, also published on Monday.

The cabinet's approval comes two days after thousands in Barcelona took to the streets for a parade to round off two weeks of Pride celebrations.