Colombia’s new gender recognition law doesn’t require surgery

PinkNews logo with white background and rainbow corners

Colombia has adopted a new gender recognition law – that allows trans people to gain legal recognition without undergoing surgery or seeing a psychiatrist.

The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of the Interior in the South American country signed a decree last week reforming the laws, that previously required individuals to undergo” psychiatric or physical examinations before gaining legal rights.

The first people have already gone through the new process, active of this week, which instead only requires that they submit a form, a copy of their ID card, and a sworn decleration that they desire to change their legal gender.

According to Americas Quarterly, the Ministry of Justice said that the progressive new system was designed to cut down on the “tedious judicial procedures” that trans people had previously been subjected to.

Under the new law, people will only be allowed to change their gender a maximum of two times – and to reduce the administrative burden, people who change genders will be blocked from changing gender again for ten years.

Interior minister Yesid Reyes told Colombian newspaper El Espectador: “Judges used to order bodily inspections to determine if people had physically changed their sex, or demanded a psychiatric exam to know if the applicant had gender dysphoria.

“Both exams were profoundly invasive of privacy rights and were rooted in unacceptable prejudice. The construction of sexual and gender identity is an issue that doesn’t depend on biology.”

It follows similar reforms to Ireland’s proposed gender recognition law, which also made changes to allow transgender people to gain legal recognition through a declaration without seeing a doctor or getting medical treatment.

Ireland’s Tánaiste Joan Burton said: “Throughout the drafting of this Bill, I have listened carefully to the views of individual citizens, representative groups and public representatives. It is essential that this important legislation is in line with international best practice.

“That is why we are moving to a self-declaration model for people aged 18 and over. This approach will have no impact on the treatment pathway which is completely separate from the civil registration process.”