Argentina has become the first country in the world to allow transgender women and men to change their names and sex in official documents such as passports and identification cards. On Monday June 4th, lines formed as some transgender women and men became the first in the world to judicially change their sex in official documents. The change of one’s name and sex is now allowed without the need for a physical transition, the permission of judges and doctors and without different types of evaluations.
This law suggests a positive change towards the stereotypical and unfair beliefs that transgender women and men are in need of evaluation, control and counseling before being able to judicially change their sex, suggesting that they are not in control of their identity and that they are confused as to who they really are. This law means in some ways that the stereotype and the belief that transgender individuals need to prove their “sanity” is challenged and that individual choices are considered valid and no longer in need of intervention by doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists. It in some ways recognizes that transgender women and men are not suffering from an identity disorder or from body confusion. Instead, this new law is a great recognition of the issues and difficulties that transgender women and men face concerning the right to an identity that they personally recognize and feel fits them. This new law also means that transgender women and men will be officially recognized as the person that they truly consider themselves to be.
Despite the victory for transgender women and men in Argentina, we should not forget that that this law is only available in one country in the world. Also, discrimination and transphobia against transgender women and men is rampant and occurs in society at large as well as in the feminist movement. Discrimination, and accompanying violence, is common in the lives of transgender women and men, as recently demonstrated when a young transgender woman in Minneapolis was brutally attacked after being called transphobic and racist names. The resistance towards transgender women was also demonstrated by the British radical feminist conference RadFem 2012 in which only “ women born women” were allowed to attend, thereby excluding transgender women.
Even though this recent change is a step in the right direction, we need to remember the discrimination and violence that so commonly affect transgender women and men. We do hope, however, that the right for transgender women and men to have their identity recognized in official documents will spread from Argentina to the rest of the world.