Spain takes first step towards letting trans people self-determine legal gender

Spain has approved a draft of a new gender recognition law which would allow for trans people to update their legal gender marker without the need for hormones or surgery.

Spain approves draft of gender recognition law which allows ‘self-determination of sex’ (Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)



The Council of Ministers approved the bill on Monday (27 June), which if passed through parliament will allow over-16s to legally change their name and gender on their identity documents through a system of self-determination.

Those between 14 and 16 would require parental or guardian consent to change gender, while children between 12 and 14 would require authorisation from a judge to change their legal gender.

EuroWeekly reported that until this legislation was brought to the table, changing a person’s legal gender in Spain was contingent on having had two years of hormonal treatment, or a medical certificate proving gender dysphoria; if the new bill secures parliamentary backing, no treatment will be required.

Spanish equality minister Irene Montero said in a statement: “We want to send a very clear message that the lives of LGBTQ+ persons matter… We are making history with a law that takes a giant leap for the rights of trans and LGBTQ+ people.”

The new law will also allow for “self-determination” by trans migrants on their documents issued in Spain, if they can prove that they would not be able to transition in their country of origin.

In England, politicians, trans rights advocates and others have campaigned to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) and allow for self-determination. The Tory government commissioned a huge consultation on reform, but ultimately decided to ignore clear public support for change.

The cross-party Women and Equalities Committee has urged the government to remove requirements of a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and the requirement that trans people live in their “acquired gender” for two years before they can seek legal recognition.

MPs last touched on this issue in February 2022 when a petition calling for the government to allow trans people to “self-identify without the need for a medical diagnosis, to streamline the administrative process, and to allow non-binary identities to be legally recognised” was debated.

SNP MP Mhairi Black declared at the debate that GRA reform has been delayed because it has become a “breeding ground of disinformation, radicalisation and the rollback of already established LGBTQ+ rights”.

She added: “The rest of the world is watching right now as Britain is in the full grasp of a moral panic… The fact that Britain has been internationally identified as having a problem with transphobia has not come out of thin air.”

Though the GRA has not been changed or reformed in England, small changes have been made in recent months, with its fee being reduced from £140 to £5, and the process being digitalised.



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