New Gender Reform Laws of Spain and Scotland

Scotland and Spain have recently passed gender reform laws to make it easier for individuals to change their legally registered gender without requiring any medical supervision.

About Spain’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill

  • The new Spanish law requires minors aged 12 and 13 years to receive the judge’s authorization to change their gender.
  • Those minors aged between 14 and 16 years will have to be accompanied by their parents or legal guardians.
  • Up until now, Spanish transgender people are required to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria, which refers to the psychological condition of not feeling a match between one’s biological sex and gender identity.
  • Under the new legislation, any individual applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate must have lived full-time in the declared identity for 3 months (6 months in case they are aging between 16 and 17 years).
  • Previously, the individual was required to have lived full-time in the declared identity for 2 years. In some cases, the individuals were mandated to provide proof that they have been living for two years as the gender they identified with or provide records showing they have taken the hormones.
  • The Bill has lowered the minimum eligibility age from 18 years to 16 years of age. It proposes a 3-month “reflection period” during which time the applicants can change their minds.
  • It allows people aged 16 years and above to change their legal gender markers without medical supervision.
  • The bill also proposes to ban the conversion therapies that seek to suppress sexual orientation or gender identity. It also seeks to impose fine and punishment on people attacking individuals belonging to LGBTQ community.
  • It will also overturn a ban that prevents lesbian couples from registering their children under both parents’ names.

Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill

  • The passing of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) bill makes Scotland the first country in the United Kingdom to approve the self-identification process for changing gender.
  • It makes it easier for people as young as 16 years of age, to change their legally recognized gender.
  • It also has similar features as that of Spain’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

About gender self-identification system

  • Gender self-identification is the concept that allows an individual to legally identify the gender of their choice by simply declaring it so, without facing any medical tests.
  • The system for gender self-identification has been demanded by transgender people across the world, including India, as discrimination against them has been rampant.
  • In Europe, this issue remains divisive across party lines as well as within the LGBT community.
  • While some believe that the declaration an individual’s desired gender is lengthy, expensive and degrading, others like feminist and gay-rights groups insist that such laws could endanger women and cause more gay teenagers to be encouraged towards hormones and surgery.

Which other countries currently recognize gender self-identification?

In 2014, Denmark became the first country in the world to approve the gender self-identification system for people wanting to change their legal gender. Other countries that currently have this system are Portugal, Norway, Malta, Argentina, Ireland, Luxembourg, Greece, Costa Rica, Mexico (only in Mexico City), Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay.

Does India have gender self-identification system?

In India, the transgender people’s rights are governed by the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020.

Under these rules, an application declaring gender is submitted to the District Magistrate. The individual applying for gender identification is not required to undergo medical examination for declaring the desired sex. The District Magistrate can process the application based on the affidavit submitted declaring the gender identity of an individual without medical or physical examination and provide an identification number to the applicant, which can be used as a proof of the application.

Under the rules, state governments are required to constitute welfare boards for transgender persons to protect their rights and interests and facilitate access to schemes and welfare initiatives implemented by the Central Government.



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