2012 – Argentina embraces transgender rights

In 2012, Argentina's Senate unanimously approved the Gender Identity Law, making sex-change surgery a legal right – the result of more than 15 years’ campaigning by transgender rights organizations such as the Asociación de Lucha por la Identidad Travesti-Transsexual.

The Asociación was set up in 1997 to defend the rights of transgender people. One of its first victories came in 2006 when the Supreme Court upheld transgender people’s legal right to organize and campaign for their rights, and in 2009, Marcela Romero became the first person with the legal right to change her identity.

In 2012, senators unanimously approved the Gender Identity Law, making Argentina the only country in the world allowing people to change their gender identity without facing barriers such as hormone therapy, surgery, or a psychiatric diagnosis that labels them as having an abnormality. It also granted adults sex-reassignment surgery and hormone therapy as a part of their public or private health care plans, and allows for changes to gender, image, or birth name on civil registries without the approval of a doctor or a judge.

Thanks to this hard-won law, Argentina’s transgender rights are now among the most advanced in the world, paving the way for other countries to follow suit. In 2014 Denmark legislated for gender recognition for transgender people over the age of 18, and in the same year an Australian court ruled that the government should recognize a third, neutral and non-specific gender besides the ‘male’ and ‘female’ categories (the world's sixth country to so – the first to do so was Nepal in 2007). And in July 2017 UK government also announced plans to reform gender identity rules to improve the rights and dignity of transgender people. At a cultural level, the coming out of high-profile individuals such as Laverne Cox has also helped shift public opinion.

Despite the advances, however, transgender people continue to suffer discrimination worldwide due to lack of legal recognition, harassment and anti-transgender violence.

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