Spain passes law allowing children aged 16 and over to change their legally registered sex without medical supervision

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Lawmakers in Spain have passed a bill allowing people over the age of 16 to change their legally registered gender without any medical or parental supervision.

The measure, strongly backed by Spain’s left-wing Podemos party, passed the Chamber of Deputies on Thursday by a vote of 188 to 150 and means anyone over 16 can change their legally registered gender without consulting a doctor. , which was previously necessary.

In addition, minors aged between 12 and 13 will be able to change their legally registered gender with the authorization of the judge, and people between 14 and 16 years old must be accompanied by their parents or legal guardians to change their identity document.

Until now, Spaniards who identified as transgender needed a diagnosis from several doctors of gender dysphoria, which is the psychological condition of not feeling a match between biological sex and gender identity. In some cases, they also needed proof that they had been living in their identified gender for two years – or even records showing they had taken hormones.

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A security guard tries to remove a transgender flag waved by activist Mar Cambrolle in the gallery after the voting session on the transgender rights bill at the Congress of Deputies in Madrid, Spain, on Thursday, December 22, 2022.

A security guard tries to remove a transgender flag waved by activist Mar Cambrolle in the gallery after the voting session on the transgender rights bill at the Congress of Deputies in Madrid, Spain, on Thursday, December 22, 2022.
(Photographer: Manaure Quintero/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The legislation was not only strongly opposed by conservatives in the Spanish government, but also caused a split between the left-wing factions of the feminist movement in Spain, reported the BBC.

Equality Minister Irene Montero, a member of the Podemos party, said the law “depathologizes” individuals who identify as transgender.

“Trans women are women,” Montero said.

Meanwhile, some members of the coalition government within Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s socialist party opposed the measure, fearing it would erode women’s rights.

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Demonstrators hold smoke flares during a protest against possible amendments to Spain's 'Trans Law' in Madrid, Spain, on Saturday, December 10, 2022.

Demonstrators hold smoke flares during a protest against possible amendments to Spain’s ‘Trans Law’ in Madrid, Spain, on Saturday, December 10, 2022.
(Photographer: Manaure Quintero/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“When gender is asserted over biological sex, it doesn’t feel like a step forward in a progressive direction to me; it feels like a step backwards,” said Carmen Calvo, former Deputy Prime Minister Sanchez. “The State has to give answers to trans people, but gender is neither voluntary nor optional”.

The bill will become law once it passes the Senate, which is expected by the end of the year.

Also on Thursday, the Scottish Parliament passed a bill to make it easier for people to change their legally recognized gender. The approval makes Scotland the first part of the UK to allow people to declare their gender on documents without the need for medical certification.

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People hold signs during a joint meeting of the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine to establish new guidelines limiting gender-affirming care in Florida, November 4, 2022.

People hold signs during a joint meeting of the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine to establish new guidelines limiting gender-affirming care in Florida, November 4, 2022.
(Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

The bill was introduced by the Scottish National Party-led government and allows people to transition by self-declaration, removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

The new rules require anyone applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate to have lived full-time with their declared identity for three months – six months if they are aged between 16 and 17 – instead of the previous period of two years. The bill lowered the minimum age of eligibility from 18 to 16.

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The revised law also sets out a three-month “cooling off period” during which candidates can change their minds. The Scottish government has yet to decide when, in 2023, it wants the new process to take effect.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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