Spain passes sweeping reforms of gender laws allowing self-ID for trans people from age 16

Trans activists in Spain celebrate the reforms.

Spain has passed sweeping reforms of its gender recognition laws to allow self-ID for trans people from the age of 16 without the need for a psychological or medical evaluation.

Lawmakers in Madrid passed the reforms on Thursday (16 February) by a vote of 191 to 60, with 91 abstaining.

The reforms mean that trans Spaniards will no longer be required to file medical documents in order to change their gender markers on official documents such as birth certificates.

Additionally, no diagnosis of gender dysphoria or proof of two-year hormonal treatment will be necessary.

Trans young people under 16 will also be allowed to apply for changed gender markers with the consent of parents or guardians, while those aged 12 or 13 will need a judge’s permission.

Trans activists in Spain celebrate the reforms.
Trans people over 16 in Spain will now be able to change gender markers without medical intervention. (Getty)

“Today we have taken a giant step forward,” equality minister Irene Montero said.

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“This law recognises the right of trans people to self-determine their gender identity, it depathologises trans people. Trans people are not sick people, they are just people.”

Spain joins countries such as Denmark and Switzerland in its decision to pass the self-ID laws.

The latest country to pass similar amendments to their gender marker laws was Finland earlier this month.

“We’re celebrating the fact this law has passed after eight years of tireless work to obtain rights for the trans community,” LGBTQ+ advocacy group FELGBTI+ head Uge Sangil told AFP outside parliament.

“We’re winning human rights with the free determination of gender.

“From today, our lives will change, because we are not ill,” Sangil continued.

It passed through the lower house of Spain’s parliament in late December following a vote of 188 to 150, despite the growing divide between Spain’s coalition government on the subject.

Maria Jesus Moro of the right-wing Popular Party, who opposes the law, claimed it was “too hasty” and had somehow “caused a lot of suffering”.

Spain is miles ahead of UK on trans rights

The vote comes following the divisive decision by the UK government to block a gender recognition reform passed by Scotland’s parliament.

The law would have made it easier for Scottish trans people to change gender markers on their ID and legal documents by minimising the wait time and minimum age.

The announcement by the government that it would invoke Section 35 to block gender reforms was met with overwhelming backlash, as well as renewed calls for Scottish independence.

Scotland’s outgoing first minister Nicola Sturgeon called the decision a “full frontal attack on democracy” following the announcement on 16 January.

“The Scottish government will defend the legislation and stand up for Scotland’s parliament,” she added.

“If this Westminster veto succeeds, it will be the first of many.”

Following the controversy, Westminster said it would block similar reforms proposed by Wales if they were to go forward.

An LGBTQ+ action plan by the Welsh government outlined a set of improvements that would help trans people obtain gender-recognition certificates.

But the concept was shut down before it had a chance to move forward, with a spokesperson of the UK government’s equalities office telling PinkNews that it would not budge on preventing further changes to the Gender Recognition Act.

“We share the concerns that others have set out with proposed reforms to the GRC application process, particularly around safety issues for women and children,” a spokesperson said.

“As a result of this, there are no plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act in England or Wales.”

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