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Spain: Gender identity bill passes parliament

December 22, 2022

The law would make Spain one of the few countries allowing a gender change in official documents based on self-declaration.

Spanish lawmakers clapping in parliament
Spain's parliament passed a new bill that would allow for changes in gender on ID cards based on self-declarationImage: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

Spain's parliament on Thursday passed a bill that allows anyone 16 and over to change the gender on their ID card without the need for psychological or medical evaluation.

The move could make Spain one of the few countries to allow the change with a simple declaration.

The bill still needs to pass the Senate. If it passes, it will become law within weeks.

What do we know about Spain's new gender identity bill?

The new law was approved with 188 votes in favor and 150 against in parliament. Seven lawmakers abstained from the vote.

The bill simplifies the process for requesting a change in gender on one's national identity card, allowing a change based on a simple statement of self-identification. After submitting the request, applicants must confirm it three months later, after which it becomes valid.

Until now, adults in Spain required a medical report attesting to gender dysphoria and proof of hormonal treatment for two years in order to request a change in gender identity on official documents.

Previously, minors needed judicial approval to make the change. Under the new bill, 14- and 15-year-olds only require parent approval.

The bill also bans conversion therapy and outlines government measures for the inclusion of trans people in the workforce, education and housing. It would allow for the recognition of the parentage of the children of unmarried lesbian and bisexual couples and guarantee access to assisted reproduction.

The legislation was championed by the country's equality ministry, which is held by the left-wing junior coalition partner Podemos.

"That's how history is made," Equality Minister Irene Montero said, praising the "feminist majority" in parliament.

Bill sparks tensions on the left

The bill sparked tensions between Podemos and their senior coalition partner, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialists. The Socialist Party had sought to modify the bill to extend judicial authorization to the age of 15, which ultimately failed.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo of the Socialists abstained from the vote, saying that she could never vote with the right-wing but could not bring herself to vote in favor.

"When gender is asserted over biological sex, it does not seem to me to be a step forward in a progressive direction; it seems to be a step backwards," Calvo told the El Mundo daily in September. "The state has to provide answers for transgender people, but gender is neither voluntary nor optional."

Trans activists outside of Spain's Congress of Deputies in Madrid; one is draped in a trans flag and holding a rainbow umbrella
Equality Minister Irene Montero said the bill will "depathologize trans lives"Image: Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images

Groups within Spain's feminist movement have expressed their opposition to the bill over concerns it could allow men to compete in women's sport or request a transfer to women's prisons.

Meanwhile, Montero has argued that the law would "depathologize trans lives and guarantee trans people's rights."

Former Socialist lawmaker Carla Antonelli left the party in October over the row. "We have seen part of the Socialist party and the feminist movement go from defending the rights of the trans minority to ruthlessly boycotting our very existence," the LGBTQI activist said in an article published in El Pais on Thursday.

sdi/jgc (AFP, EFE, Reuters)