El Pais (Spain)
November 8, 2006
Sólo el PP se opone en el Congreso a la ley
para el cambio de sexo de los transexuales
Emilio De Benito - Madrid
Translation by Jane Brook of the article in the newspaper 'El Pais':
Only the Popular Party is opposed in the Congress
to the law for the change of sex of the transsexuals
by Emilio De Benito - Madrid
THE JUSTICE COMMISSION OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HAS APPROVED THE GENDER IDENTITY LAW WHICH WILL ALLOW TRANSSEXUALS TO HAVE THEIR RECORDED NAME AND SEX CHANGED IN THE NATIONAL IDENTITY REGISTER EVEN IF THEY HAVE NOT UNDERGONE GENDER REASSIGNMENT SURGERY.
ONLY THE CONSERVATIVE PARTIDO POPULAR OPPOSED THE PASSING OF THE LAW IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
Transsexuals will be able to have changed the name and the sex under which they are recorded in the National Identity Register without needing to undergo gender reassignment surgery. The relevant law was passed yesterday in the House of Representatives with only the Partido Popular (PP, Conservative Party) opposing the measure. This party argued for maintaining the present procedure which requires the completion of gender reassignment surgery and then the obtaining individually of recognition thereof by the court, a system which makes the process much more difficult. Izquierda Unida (IU, United Left Party) succeeded in having an amendment accepted which will allow the partner of a lesbian who has a child through artificial insemination to be (also) recorded as the mother of the child.
The law, which will now require to be approved in the Senate, was stated by the transsexual activist and member of the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers Party) Carla Antonelli to be "the most advanced in the World". Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, allow Registry changes without requiring the completion of GRS but the Spanish law goes further in having retroactive effect; transsexuals who have already gone through the process of "aligning their physical features to their desired sex" need only present a certificate to that effect from their doctor or from a recognised legal official in order to benefit from the law.
This aspect of the law [which was approved yesterday thanks to an amendment proposed by Rosa Bonàs, spokeswoman for Esquerda Republicana de Catalunya, (ERC, Republican Left Party of Catalonia)] is, stated Antonelli, very important since it covers transsexuals who have already undergone hormone treatment and undergone other physical changes, including those who have self-medicated and who have for years been living in their psychosocial sex.
This same aspect was also emphasised by the Socialist spokeswoman, Carmen Monton, who stated that although there were no official figures, it is estimated that there are about 7,000 transsexuals living in Spain, adding that "if there had been only one, the law would still have been worthwhile, it's a question of human rights". She had right up to the last minute negotiated agreements on the law with other political parties, notably with ERC and IU.
The PSOE had the support of almost all parliamentary groups. The most vehement rejection, besides from the PP itself, was from Convergencia i Unio (CiU, Catalan Nationalist Party), the spokesman of which, Jordi Jané, was critical of the failure to take account of their views. The PP voted -almost always alone- against every aspect of the law. Its spokesman, Juan Santaella, recalled that on December 21, 2000 the PSOE had argued in the Senate in favour of a draft law which required the
completion of gender reassignment surgery and court recognition thereof in order for a change of sex to be registrable.
Monton energetically defended her position, highlighting that 80% of transsexuals are unemployed and that 50% had attempted suicide and stating her "pride" in belonging to a party which had been able "to keep pace with the changes in society".
Although she voted in favour of the law, Isaura Navarro of IU-ICV (United Left Party) was critical of the proposal and succeeded in having adopted her amendment in respect of the situation of a lesbian married couple who have a child through artificial insemination. On this occasion, no-one from the PSOE argued, as had the Ministry of Health in 2005, that Article 108 of the Civil Code limits the recognition of the matrimonial relationship to when "the father and the mother are married to each other". However, neither Navarro nor Jané managed to have the
scope of the law extended so as to cover documents issued to foreign transsexuals (residence permits or work permits).
One other source of discord was on the possibility for minors, having been duly diagnosed, to begin the process of changing sex. Navarro pointed out that they were being condemned to suffer harassment and discrimination. Monton retorted that an adolescent could start medical treatment and changes in documents at the age of 18 (or on becoming independent at the age of 16. The law does not provide for the cost of gender reassignment surgery to be covered by the public health authorities. The Socialist spokeswoman expressed her confidence that the country's autonomous regions would follow the example of Andalucia, Extremadura and Aragon and include it (within the public healthprovision).