Meet Spain’s first transgender senator

Carla Antonelli

Carla Antonelli is Spain’s first openly transgender senator and was instrumental in passing the European nation’s groundbreaking self-ID laws.

The 64-year-old LGBTQ+ activist is not only one of the most famous queer rights campaigners in the country, but she’s also one of the main trailblazers behind the watershed self-ID laws.

Passed on 16 February 2023, the landmark ruling allowed trans people over the age of 16 to change their gender markers on official documents, including birth certificates, without medical documentation. The law also meabs that no diagnosis of gender dysphoria or proof of two-year hormonal treatment is necessary.

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

Antonelli joined the Senate of Spain on 17 August this year, stating in an interview with the Thomas Reuters Foundation that “we will defend our rights tooth and nail” following the self-ID law’s passing.

She also said that her priority would be countering misinformation in the Senate, as well as fighting for measures including gender markers for non-binary people on official documents.

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“We don’t want anything special. We just want real equality and the right to be happy and die old,” Antonelli added.

Before her appointment to Spain’s Senate in August, she served as the country’s first openly trans MP in a regional parliament in 2011.

In 2006, she went on hunger strike in 2006 to convince the Socialist Worker’s Party – which she was previously a member of – to pass a law that would allow trans people to change their legal gender without needing to undergo gender-affirming surgeries.

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