Lawmakers in Spain passed a law on Thursday that allows people ages 16 and over to change their legally registered gender without any medical or parental supervision.
The legislation passed in Spain’s lower house of Parliament 188-150, replacing a previous law that required people to consult with a doctor before making the change on their government IDs.
Minors ages 12 and 13 can make the change with a judge’s authorization, while those between 14 and 16 will have to be accompanied by their parents or legal guardians.
Previously, Spanish transgender people needed several doctors to diagnose them with gender dysmorphia — a psychological condition of identifying one’s biological sex with their gender identity.
Some past cases required those looking to change their legal gender to prove that they had been living for two years as the gender they identified with or provide records showing they were taking hormones.
Transgender rights groups celebrating outside of Spanish Parliament said the law represents a “before and after” moment in LGBT rights.
Equality Minister Irene Montero of the Podemos Party said the law “de-pathologises” trans lives and guarantees trans people’s rights, the BBC reported.
“Trans women are women,” Montero said.
The law, drawn up by the center-left coalition government, was opposed by conservatives. It passed following a bitter 18-month-long parliamentary debate.
The law also drew the ire of some feminist activists, who regarded gender self-determination as a threat that muddles the concept of biological sex.
Even some members within Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s socialist party have opposed the move, fearing that it will erode women’s rights, the BBC reported.
“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,” Carmen Calvo, a former deputy prime minister Sanchez, said. “The state has to provide answers for transgender people, but gender is neither voluntary nor optional.”
The bill is expected to become law once it is passed by the Senate, which is expected to happen by the end of the year.
Meanwhile on the same day, legislators in Scotland passed a similar law making it easier for people to change their legally recognized gender.
The bill, introduced by the Scottish National Party-led government, makes Scotland the first part of the UK to endorse allowing people to declare their gender on documents without the need for medical diagnosis of gender dysmorphia.
The new rules require anyone applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate to have lived full-time in their declared identity for three to six months if they are ages 16-17 – as opposed to the previously required period of two years.
The bill lowered the minimum eligibility age from 18 to 16.
The revised law also establishes a three-month “reflection period,” during which applicants can change their minds. The Scottish government has not yet decided when in 2023 it wants the new process to take effect.
Supporters of the bill argued that the change would improve the lives of transgender people by allowing them to get official documents that match their gender identities.
The bill was opposed by “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, who argued the simplified process could give predatory men access to safe spaces intended for women, such as shelters for domestic abuse survivors.
More than a dozen other countries have already adopted similar gender identity legislation.
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