Uruguay to enact legal changes in gender recognition

September 24, 2009

Flag of the Republic of UruguayThe Boston EDGE (link here) picks up a report posted on the “anti-gay religious Web site LifeSiteNews” that Uruguay is to enact legislation which will allow everyone “the right to the free development of his personality regarding his own gender identity, independently of his biological, genetic, anatomic, morphologic, hormonal, assigned, or other sex.”

Apparently the bill also contains guidelines for those wishing to be “legally recognized as the gender opposite that of their anatomy” which include what seems to be a two-year RLE requirement (with the approval of an interdisciplinary committee of specialists) for applicants who do not undergo SRS. This requirement seems likely to be waived in cases where applicants have undergone SRS. Interestingly, the legislation will also allow applicants to revert to their original legally assigned gender after five years.

Additionally, even once the legal change has been made, marriages to others of “the same biological gender” will not be permitted; and applicants must also be at least 18 years of age.

What is unclear is how this change in the law will play out in other areas. Will successful applicants also be able to change the markers on their birth certificates and passports, for example? Will they be protected under anti-discrimination legislation? Because it seems to me that for this law to be effective, it must be fully integrated with the other aspects of one’s documented existence. In the UK, my experience was that, whilst my Deed Poll document enabled me to change my status with the tax office, my employer and so on, I could only change my passport with a supporting letter from my gender doctor – and nothing less than a full GRC would permit me to change my birth certificate. And in the US the problems and distress caused to trans people when run into the infamous social security “no match” are widely recorded.

In recent times, Uruguay has made good progress in advancing the cause of GLB people, and it would be a crying shame if this potentially important and enlightened legislation aimed at trans people should prove to be ineffective in its everyday application. I hope my fears are unfounded, and that this does not turn out to be a token gesture which exists in isolation.

One Response to “Uruguay to enact legal changes in gender recognition”


  1. Well… bothers me that I can’t marry the girl of my dreams, but then, I don’t live in Uruguay… it’s still gender policing, but the requirement for surgery being dropped is a good thing… I’m encouraged. That’s pretty cool news.


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