Spain Takes Next Step for Transgender Persons Over 16 to Change Name, Gender

The Spanish Cabinet passed a draft bill on Tuesday that seeks approval from parliament to allow transgender people over age 16 to change their name and gender without requiring a diagnosis of gender dysphoria from a doctor, the Associated Press reported.

Any Spanish national over 16 could make the changes by stating twice that they wish to do so. In some prior cases, transgender people had to provide proof of taking hormones or living for two years as the gender with which they identify.

The law also would allow children between 14 and 16 to apply for a name and gender change with parental approval, or by going to a judge if there is a disagreement among them. Courts would be involved for applications of children between 12 and 14, and children under 12 would be able to apply only for a name change.

There has been some pushback from transgender activists, as the law does not protect transgender children under 14 or the rights of nonbinary people or non-Spanish transgender people who emigrated to Spain.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Trans protestors
Hundreds of protesters gathered in Madrid to support the trans community, coinciding with the International Day of LGTBI Pride, under the slogan Nor Designated Sex Nor Gender Proven, on June 28, 2021. On Tuesday, the Spanish Cabinet passed a draft bill that seeks approval from parliament to allow transgender people over age 16 to change their name and gender without requiring a diagnosis of gender dysphoria from a doctor. Guillermo Gutierrez Carrascal/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The proposal could still change during a lengthy parliamentary debate of the legal draft. But if its essence prevails, Spain would join a handful of countries around the world enshrining gender self-determination without a diagnosis of gender dysphoria or requiring that a person's physical appearance conform with traditional male or female expressions.

It would also make the changes in the official registry faster than in most countries: up to four months from the first application to the change finally appearing in official documents. The process would be easily reversible for half a year, but it would require going to court after that.

The legal proposal has been controversial from the start, pitting against each other transgender rights activists and some feminists who believe that the law blurs the concept of biological sex.

It had also opened an internal battle within the left-wing ruling coalition, with the leading Socialists initially opposing self-determination in line with historical feminist activists while the junior partner of the governing alliance, the far-left United We Can party, strongly pushed for the free, unsupervised right to choose one's gender to prevail.

Negotiations within the Cabinet were "long and difficult," Irene Montero, Equality Minister and a prominent leader of United We Can said Tuesday. But the final draft, she added, was "a giant's step" in guaranteeing the rights of the LGBT community.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, the leader of the Socialists, said that the draft law put Spain "at the international forefront" in LGBT rights.

"We recognize the right of everyone to be whoever they want to be," he wrote.

Transgender rights groups had put pressure for months on the government by holding hunger strikes, proposing more ambitious drafts to Parliament and urging organizers of the country's biggest Pride celebration, in Madrid, to exclude the Socialists from the annual march.

"It's a brutal trim from of what we had demanded for decades," Mar Cambrollé, from Plataforma Trans, told AP. "It does not develop specific policies to deal with unemployment of trans people, it does not delve into protocols for preventing harassment in educational centers, it does not speak of a health care model for us and it does not touch on sports."

Natalia Aventín, head of the Euforia group of families with transgender members, said that transgender rights had been watered-down because the government included them as part of broader legislation in favor of lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer communities.

"The government's marketing campaign has been better than the law itself," Aventín said.

Nonbinary Protestors
Nonbinary activists march in a rally organized by Orgullo Crítico (Critical Pride) from Atocha to Plaza España on June 28, 2021, in Madrid, Spain. On June 29, the Spanish government will pass the draft bill calling for 'real and effective equality for trans people', a combination of the trans and LGBTQ bill joined together into one. This new draft will guarantee the LGBTQ people's rights and allow them to modify their name and sex in the Civil Registry from the age of 14. Isabel Infantes Morcillo/Getty Images