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News > Latin America

Chilean Senators Approve Gender Identity Law, Uphold Trans Rights

  • Trans activists demand state recognition of their right to gender identity.

    Trans activists demand state recognition of their right to gender identity. | Photo: Twitter/@OTDChile

Published 5 September 2018

Chileans above 14 years old will be allowed to change their names and sex to reflect their identity. Children under 14 were left excluded from the bill.

Chile’s Senate Tuesday approved the Gender Identity Law to allow trans people above 14 years old to change their names and legal sex.

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People over 18 will be able to change their name and sex in the civil registry while those between 14 and 18 years old need a judicial authorization before requesting the change on the public record. To get legal authorization minors will need the support of a guardian or tutor.

The bill, that recognizes gender as a personal conviction and guarantees the right of trans people to be addressed by public and private institutions according to their self-defined gender regardless of surgical intervention, was approved with 26 votes in favor and 14 against.

The original project included children under the age of 14, but this provision didn’t reach the necessary 25 votes to pass.  

Jimena Lizama of the Fundacion Iguales (Equal Foundation) cautiously celebrated the legislative decision. “It is a great achievement that the Senate approved the project and that it recognized the right of trans teenagers to have a gender identity. However, it is unfortunate that it excluded children who are also subject to have their rights to gender identity recognized just as with the executive and judicial powers, and the Inter American Human Rights Court, among others,” she said.

According to LGBTI group Let's Go Chile, the bill discriminates against trans children under 14. “The majority of trans people are conscious of their identity before 10. Leaving people under 14 outside of the Gender Identity Law is cruel,” the organization tweeted before the vote.  

Religious groups protested outside the Senate to demand the rejection of the bill, arguing it would hurt Chile’s youth. However, legislators voted to approve the bill saying it provides protection for a group that generally faces discrimination.

The bill will now go to the Chamber of Representatives, and then be reviewed by President Sebastian Piñera.

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