Spain’s first openly transgender senator, Carla Antonelli, pledges to protect queer and trans rights

Spain's first trans senator, Carla Antonelli

Spain’s first openly trans senator has pledged to defend the country’s trans self-ID law as right-wing parties attempt to roll back trans rights. 

Carla Antonelli joined the Senate of Spain on Thursday (17 August) after an inconclusive July parliamentary election. 

Speaking with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the prominent trans activist and former actress, said “we will defend our rights tooth and nail”, in response to Spain’s recent passing of a trans self-ID law, a reform she was a leading advocate for. 

The reforms, which passed on 16 February, enable young trans people under the age of 16 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.

It also means trans people in Spain will no longer be required to file medical documents in order to change their gender markers on official documents such as birth certificates, and no diagnosis of gender dysphoria or proof of two-year hormonal treatment will be necessary.

But despite the country’s progress when it comes to trans rights, both the conservative People’s Party and far-right Vox have vowed to rollback the legislation should they succeed in forming government.

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Antonelli, who previously served as the country’s first openly trans MP in a regional parliament in 2011, said: “Those who have spread fake news stories about trans people in female prisons or children being forced into hormone treatment have sown fields of hatred.”

She said her priority will be countering misinformation in the Senate and fighting for measures such as gender-markers for non-binary people on official documents. 

The 64-year-old is determined to fight for LGBTQ+ rights, and added: “We don’t want anything special. We just want real equality and the right to be happy and die old.”

Antonelli was part of the years-long battle to gain rights for trans people in Spain, and in 2006 she went on hunger strike in a bid to convince the country’s Socialist Worker’s Party – which she was previously a part of – to pass a law allowing trans people to change their legal gender without having to undergo sex-reassignment surgeries.

Following a faction refusing to back the self-ID law, Antonelli quit the party last year in order to stay true to her own beliefs. 

“There is nothing in life like your own principles. I want to look in the mirror and see my true self reflected there,” she said. 

Spain joins countries such as Denmark and Switzerland in its decision to pass the self-ID laws, while similar amendments to gender marker laws were made by Finland in February this year.

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