As reported by the Huffington Post, Argentina has advanced rights for freedom of gender identity in significant ways. Yesterday, the senate approved a gender rights law which mandates that private and public health care cover a sex-change surgery or hormone therapy, and will also allow people to specify how their gender is listed in the civil survey, regardless of physical characteristics. The senate unanimously passed the law; President Cristina Fernandez is in support of the law and will likely sign it. As Sen. Miguel Pichetto said during the debate, “This is truly a human right: the right to happiness.” Sen. Osvaldo Lopez, the only openly gay national lawmaker in Argentina, said, “This law is going to enable many of us to have light, to come out of the darkness, to appear.”
According to Katrina Karkazis, author of “Fixing Sex,” this type of law is “unheard of” because it does not ask people to change their body in order to change their gender. Sex change procedures can be painful and irreversible and this law allows people to legally assume their preferred gender identity without such drastic measures. If they do choose to proceed with either surgery or hormone therapy, however, both options will fall under their “Obligatory Medical Plan,” which means neither private nor public health care providers can charge extra for them.
Two years ago Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalize gay marriage. Its policymakers see this law as a natural progression to ensuring basic rights for all its citizens. According to Argentine paper Los Andes, this law will further the rights and increase the visibility of trans people in Argentina, many of whom work in prostitution and do not have secondary education. By instituting a that law will allow people autonomy over their own bodies and identities without the approval of doctors or judges, Argentina is setting itself at the forefront of gender rights.