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
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.
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