The Spanish government on Thursday approved a law allowing people 16 and older to change their legally registered gender without undergoing psychological and medical evaluations to show gender dysphoria, becoming one of the few countries to allow such gender change by self-declaration.
Spain’s minister of equality, Irene Montero, said on the Parliament floor on Thursday that the new law recognized transgender people’s right to free determination and prevented being transgender from being treated as a pathology.
“Trans people are not ill people,” she said. “They are people, full stop.”
Spain is among the first countries to pass such a law, following countries like Denmark and Argentina. Similar proposals have divided public opinion elsewhere. Last month, Britain’s government overruled Scotland’s Parliament for the first time, blocking legislation that would have allowed transgender people to have the gender with which they identify legally recognized by making a declaration. The plan would have removed a requirement for “evidence of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.”
Spanish lawmakers on Thursday also gave final approval to a law that gives women paid time off if they are diagnosed with severe menstrual pain, becoming the first country in Europe to do so. They also extended access to abortion to minors 16 and older without the consent of a parent or guardian.
The gender law has created friction between the right and the left but also within the Socialist Party, Spain’s biggest liberal party.
Víctor Gutiérrez, the L.G.B.T. secretary of the Socialist Party, praised it, writing on Twitter that it was a “law that improves the life of millions of people.”
But Carmen Calvo, a prominent Socialist politician and the former deputy prime minister, abstained from voting on the law, and a Socialist senator said on Twitter that lawmakers should reject it in the name of feminism and socialism.
“Laws that are being called off in other countries must not be imposed by the will of a minority,” Feministas Socialistas, an association of socialist feminists, said in a statement.
But for transgender rights activists, it was a belated victory.
“The Calvary is over,” Mar Cambrollé Jurado, a transgender rights activist, wrote on Twitter. “Today is a historic day for trans people.”
Under the new law, children between 14 and 16 will be able to legally change their gender in the civil registry if they are accompanied by their parents or a legal guardian, and those between 12 and 14 will need a judge’s authorization.
After the initial request for a legal gender change, the applicant will need to ratify their decision within three months.
The law also banned conversion therapies intended to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.