Spanish Parliament has passed a controversial gender self-identification bill that if approved by the Senate will allow anyone 16 and over to change their legal sex, and even in some cases, allowing children as young as 12 to apply.
The bill was approved 188 votes to 150, and now moves on to the Senate. Should it be passed, applicants will no longer be required to obtain a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria prior to legally changing their sex, nor will they be required to provide proof of two years of hormonal treatments as was the case in the past, the BBC reports.
The bill was pushed by the left-wing Podemos party which is part of a coalition government with the Socialist party of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
"Trans women are women," said Equality Minister Irene Montero, a Podemos party member, who claims that the legislation "de-pathologizes" trans lives.
Trans activists have been pushing to depathologize gender dysphoria for over a decade in a move that mirrors the gay rights movement. Homosexuality was considered a mental illness until the 1970s before it was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Trans activists argue that the same should be done for gender dysphoria, overlooking the obvious difference that being gay does not require medical intervention or body part amputation.
Many Spanish feminists have voiced concerns that the self-ID bill will put women and girls at risk, and the issue has caused a rift in the coalition government with some members of the Socialist party expressing criticism.
"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, former deputy prime minister to Mr. Sanchez told the BBC. "The state has to provide answers for transgender people, but gender is neither voluntary nor optional."
If enacted, Spain would join nine other European countries in having self-identification legislation, including Ireland, Norway, and Portugal.
The vote occurred just as Scotland passed its hotly contested Gender Recognition Reform Bill which also implements a system of self-identification for anyone aged 16 and over and reduces the amount of time living in the acquired gender to just three months. The bill was also met with strong opposition from Scottish feminists.
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