Gender self-identification
01/07/2021
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Context:

  • The Spanish government approved the first draft of a bill that would allow anyone over the age of 14 to legally change gender without a medical diagnosis or hormone therapy.
  • Currently, for someone to change their gender in official records, the law first requires two years of hormone therapy and a psychological evaluation.
  • The proposed law will remove these requirements for everyone above 14 years of age. Those between 14 and 16, however, would require parental approval.

What is gender self-identification?

  • Self-identification, or ‘self-id’, is the concept that a person should be allowed to legally identify with the gender of their choice by simply declaring so, and without facing any medical tests.
  • This has been a long held demand of trans-right groups around the world, including in India, as prejudice against trans people remains rampant.
  • In Europe, this issue has remained divisive not only on liberal-conservative lines, but also within the LGBT community.
  • While some believe that the current processes for declaring one’s desired gender are lengthy, expensive and degrading, some feminist and gay-rights groups insist that such a law could endanger women and cause more gay teenagers to be told that they might be trans and thus encouraged towards hormones and surgery.

Where is self-ID legal?

  • As per the advocacy group ILGA (the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association), 15 countries around the world recognise self-ID, including Denmark, Portugal, Norway, Malta, Argentina, Ireland, Luxembourg, Greece, Costa Rica, Mexico (only in Mexico City), Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay.

What is the process for declaring one’s desired sex in India?

  • In India, the rights of transgender persons are governed by the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020.
  • Under the Rules, an application to declare gender is to be made to the District Magistrate. Parents can also make an application on behalf of their child.
  • A much-criticised previous draft of regulations required transgender persons to go through a medical examination for declaring their desired sex.
  • This requirement was omitted in the final Rules, which state that the District Magistrate will “subject to the correctness of the applicant’s particulars, get the application processed based on the affidavit submitted declaring the gender identity of any person, without any medical or physical examination, and thereafter, issue an identification number to the applicant, which may be quoted as proof of application.”
  • As per the Rules, state governments have also been directed to constitute welfare boards for transgender persons to protect their rights and interests, and facilitate access to schemes and welfare measures framed by the Centre.
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