Trans law in Spain

Spain takes ‘giant step’ towards gender self-identification

Cabinet approves draft bill extending LGBTI rights that also bans conversion therapies, makes it easier for lesbian couples to register as co-parents and gives trans people access to assisted reproduction

Youths at a LGBTI Pride march in Valencia.
Youths at a LGBTI Pride march in Valencia.Biel Aliño / EFE

The Spanish government on Tuesday approved a draft bill that paves the way for gender self-identification.

Known popularly as the “trans law,” it is one of the signature projects of the leftist coalition government in Spain, which would become the largest European country to let people legally change the name and gender on their ID documents without years of hormone therapy or a medical diagnosis.

We are making history with a law that takes a giant leap for the rights of trans and LGBTI people
Equality Minister Irene Montero

The joint initiative by the governing Socialist Party (PSOE) and its junior partner Unidas Podemos puts the country “at the vanguard of Europe, of the countries fighting and protecting their citizens regardless of their differences, because everyone is equal in terms of their rights,” said Justice Minister Juan Carlos Campo on Tuesday.

The document, which still needs to undergo review and secure parliamentary backing, would allow people 16 and over to legally change their name and gender on their identity documents without undergoing hormone therapy or securing medical reports indicating “gender dysphoria.” The change is also possible for 14- and 15-year-olds with the consent of their legal guardian, and for 12- and 13-year-olds with court approval. Younger children are excluded.

“We are making history with a law that takes a giant leap for the rights of trans and LGBTI people,” said Equality Minister Irene Montero, describing the draft bill as “proof of the strength of the coalition government.” The partners had been at odds for months over the wording, particularly on the issue of free gender self-determination.

Montero also described the draft bill as “feminist,” alluding to the fact that feminist groups have criticized the initiative on the grounds that it would undermine existing measures to protect women.

Justice Minister Juan Carlos Campo, government spokesperson María Jesús Montero and Equality Minister Irene Montero following the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
Justice Minister Juan Carlos Campo, government spokesperson María Jesús Montero and Equality Minister Irene Montero following the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.EUROPA PRESS/R.Rubio.POOL / Europa Press

The draft bill, which seeks to extend and cement the rights of the LGBTI community, also prohibits conversion therapies aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation; gives renewed access to assisted reproduction in the public healthcare system to lesbian, bisexual and single women (who were excluded seven years ago); and for the first time includes “trans people who can conceive” on this list. It also allows a lesbian woman to be officially listed as the co-parent of a child born to her partner without the need for prior adoption.

What’s more, the draft bill regulates the rights of intersex individuals for the first time, stating that they will not undergo medical intervention to alter their sex characteristics unless it is for health reasons, and that their gender does not have to be specified during their first year of life. Diversity will also be addressed in school curriculums.

Government spokesperson María Jesús Montero said that Spanish society is “plural, a lot more mature and progressive than some of the most conservative sectors would have us believe. Whether they like it or not, this government will keep working on this line of social and civil law accomplishments.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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