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Spanish lawmakers
approve bill to let transsexuals change gender without
surgery

Spanish lawmakers
approve bill to let transsexuals change gender without
surgery

The lower house of Spain's parliament in Madrid has approved a bill that would let transsexuals change their officially registered gender from male to female or vice versa without undergoing sex-change surgery. The bill was approved Tuesday and must now go before the senate for a final vote. It will allow transsexuals to change their gender listing in civil registries with a doctor's certificate stating they have been diagnosed as having a gender-identity disorder, that they believe they were born the wrong sex. They must change their first name to one appropriate to the other sex at the same time.

Another condition is that the person must prove they have undergone hormonal therapy or other medical treatment for at least two years to encourage the change of identity. Transsexuals unable to receive treatment due to age or health problems will be exempted. Applicants must be 18 or older. Spain is home to 7,000 to 9,000 transsexuals, but the number of those who have actually undergone sex-change surgery is not known, according to Spain's main federation of gays, lesbians, and transsexuals. Carla Antonelli, a transsexual activist and member of the ruling Socialist party, welcomed the new bill, saying Spain is a pioneering country in protecting the rights of transsexuals. "It is the most advanced law in the world," Antonelli said. She said the law was important because it could be applied retroactively, meaning people who have already undergone medical treatment or are in the process now do not have to begin a new two-year period of treatment. The new bill is the latest plank in the Socialist government's liberal platform, which has also included legalization of same-sex marriage and making it easier for Spaniards to divorce. The measures have infuriated the Roman Catholic Church, which accuses Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of undermining traditional family values. (AP)

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