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Spain passes law allowing children 16 and over to change legally registered gender without medical supervision

Lawmakers in Spain have approved a bill allowing people over 16 years of age to change their legally registered gender without any medical supervision or parent supervision.

The measure, strongly backed by Spain’s left-wing Podemos party, was approved in the lower house of parliament on Thursday by a vote of 188 to 150 and means that anyone over the age of 16 can change their legally registered gender without consulting with a doctor, which was previously required.

Additionally, minors ages 12 and 13 will be able to change legally registered genders with a judge’s authorization, and people between 14 and 16 will have to be accompanied by their parents or legal guardians in order to make the gender I.D. change.

Up to now, Spaniards who identified as transgender needed a diagnosis by several doctors of gender dysphoria, which is the psychological condition of not feeling a match between one’s biological sex and gender identity. In some cases, they also needed proof they had been living for two years as the gender they identified with — or even records showing that they had taken hormones.

The legislation was not only fiercely opposed by conservatives in the Spanish government but also caused a rift between leftist factions of the feminist movement in Spain, BBC reported.

Equality Minister Irene Montero, a Podemos party member, said the law “de-pathologizes” individuals who identify as transgender.

“Trans women are women,” Montero said. 

Meanwhile, some members of the coalition government within the socialist party of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez have opposed the move, fearing that it will erode women’s rights.

“When gender is asserted over biological sex, it does not seem to me to be a step forward in a progressive direction; it seems to be a step backwards,” Carmen Calvo, a former deputy prime minister Sanchez, said. “The state has to provide answers for transgender people, but gender is neither voluntary nor optional.”

The bill will become law once it is passed by the Senate, which is a step expected by the end of the year.

Also on Thursday, the Scottish Parliament passed a bill to make it easier for people to change their legally recognized gender. The approval makes Scotland the first part of the U.K. to have endorsed allowing people to declare their gender on documents without the need for medical certification.

The bill was introduced by the Scottish National Party-led government and allows people to transition by self-declaration, removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

The new rules require anyone applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate to have lived full-time in their declared identity for three months – six months if they are ages 16 to 17 – rather than the previous period of two years. The bill lowered the minimum eligibility age from 18 to 16.

The revised law also establishes a three-month “reflection period,” during which applicants can change their minds. The Scottish government has not yet decided when in 2023 it wants the new process to take effect.

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