Chilean Senate approves the Gender Identity Law

SANTIAGO – After five years of processes, protests and debates, the Chilean Senate approved on Tuesday the Gender Identity Law. The bill allows people above 14 years old to change their names and legal sex. Children under fourteen years old were excluded of the law, as the proposal didn’t have enough votes.

The Senate of Chile approved a bill that allows transgender people to change their sex and names, according to the gender they identify themselves with. The Gender Identity Law was voted for on Tuesday, after five years of heavy debating. With 26 votes in favor, fourteen votes against, and no one abstinence, the historical law passed through the Senate. However, children under fourteen years old won´t be able to change their sex, as the voting didn’t make it.

The law establishes that people above eighteen years old will be able to make the change at the Civil Registration Office, in the presence of at least two witnesses. In the case of adolescents among fourteen and eighteen years old, they need their parents or a legal representative’s authorization, presented before a justice court.   

While parliamentarians voted, opposition and supporters of the law were at the Senate’s tribunes yelling slogans. The president of the upper chamber, Carlos Montes, had to request people to remain quiet several times.

Those in favor: ´A law dealing with reality`

“What this bill does, is not discriminating anyone, not imposing anything on anybody. Right the opposite: the law deals with a reality, which is the transgender families, men and women in Chile who require treatment and protection,” Senator Ricardo Lagos Weber from Partido por la Democracia said.

“Society has changed, and we have to deal with these society’s changes. The Chilean society respects something, as long as it isn’t imposed on the rest of the people. No one is gonna be forced to change their names or sex at the Civil Registration Office,” Senator Lagos Weber added.

Those against: ´A setback for Chile, biology doesn’t matter anymore`

“This is a setback for Chile, and a bad one. Now, what biology says isn’t important anymore, as some people say that what matters is what psychology says. It isn’t important if someone was born man or women anymore,” said Juan Antonio Coloma, deputy from the party Union Democrática Independiente UDI.

Justice Minister Hernán Larraín, reacted positively to the newly approved bill. However, the minister highlighted that approving the bill for children under fourteen years old would have been a mistake. “We appreciate that the bill hasn’t been approved for children under fourteen years. Those children don’t have the capability to decide by themselves,” Minister Larraín explained.

Deputy from the Partido Demócrata Cristiano, Ximena Rincón, defended the proposal for children under 14 years old. “We won’t stop fighting for the bill, because we know they have the same rights that adults have. Therefore, today we have won one battle, but the war hasn´t ended yet,” Rincón said.

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