Argentine law lets people identify own gender

Walter Daniel Alvarez shows his police credential whilst waiting outside Congress in Buenos Aires, on May 9, 2012.

Story highlights

  • The law was passed by the Senate on Wednesday
  • It gives Argentinians the right to identify their own gender
  • They can change official documents to reflect their choice

Lawmakers in Argentina have approved a gender identity law that allows individuals to be recognized in official documents by the gender they choose.

Argentinians have the right to be treated in accordance with their own gender identity, and the government is required to recognize it as well, the law states.

The law gained final approval from the Senate on Wednesday.

"It is understood that gender identity is the internal and individual way that a person experiences their gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth," the law states.

This means that people 18 or older in Argentina can go to a government office and change the gender listed on official documents if they choose.

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The law is meant to include people who undergo sex change operations or hormone treatments to look like the opposite sex, but it goes further than that.

Those who dress, talk or have manners like someone of the opposite sex also qualify to have their documents changed to recognize their self-identity.

A push for such a law began under the late President Nestor Kirchner, and the cause was taken up by his wife and presidential successor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

"(The law) is a path toward equality, inclusion and recognition of rights for all Argentinians," Vice President Amado Boudou said. "Today is a day when thousands and thousands of Argentinians have new rights, without anyone else losing an ounce of their own rights."

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