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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 11, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 19
Argentina passes 'cutting-edge' Trans rights law
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Argentina passes 'cutting-edge' Trans rights law

by James Whitely - SGN Staff Writer

On the morning of May 9, as U.S. President Barack Obama voiced his support for same-sex marriage in America, news broke that the Argentine Senate approved a gender-rights law granting Transgender adults the right to receive sex-reassignment surgery or hormone therapy as part of their private or public health care plans. The bill also gives Transgender Argentines the right to specify their own gender identity in civil and legal affairs - regardless of their physical characteristics, or where they are in their transition.

Cesar Cigliutti, president of Comunidad Homosexual Argentina (CHA) called the bill 'vanguardia,' or 'cutting-edge,' because of the benefits it guarantees.

Senators approved the Gender Identity Law by a vote of 55-0 (out of 72 Senate seats) with the other 17 absent, 'declared absent,' or abstaining. The president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez, has supported the bill and is expected to sign it into law.

Many Argentines saw Transgender rights as the next step when same-sex marriage was legalized in the country two years ago.

'It is an act of justice and reparation, a cry for freedom and dignity in the face of years of complicit silence, of exclusion and discrimination against people based on perceived gender identity,' said Pedro Paradiso Sottile, counsel for the CHA.

The bill grants any adult Argentine the right to rectify their sex and name in public records, including on their birth certificate, if it doesn't match their gender identity. Upon request of a change of identity, the registrar must issue a new birth certificate with the changes desired by the Transgender individual - without requiring judicial or administrative permission.

Additionally, the bill requires public and private health systems to grant all Argentines access to surgical and/or hormonal treatments under the Compulsory Health Plan, meaning that health providers, unions, and private companies cannot charge extra for the procedures.

'It's saying you can change your gender legally without having to change your body at all. That's unheard of,' Katrina Karkazis, a Stanford University medical anthropologist and bioethicist, told the AP. 'There's a whole set of medical criteria that people have to meet to change their gender in the U.S., and meanwhile this gives the individual an extraordinary amount of authority for how they want to live. It's really incredible.'

The law also gives minors (those under 18) access to the same benefits, provided they have the consent of their legal guardians.

'This law is going to enable many of us to have light, to come out of the darkness, to appear,' said Sen. Osvaldo Lopez of Tierra del Fuego, the only openly Gay national lawmaker in Argentina.

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