Colombians win right to gender change

LGBT gender rights Colombia
From left to right: Paola Sofía, Kattys, Alexandra, Maria Ines Cubides, Alejandro Lanz, Katia Trillos, Julian Salamanca and Katalina Ángel – all members of Colombian LGBT support groups. Photo: Alejandro Lanz

Big step for LGBT rights as people allowed to choose the sex they feel truly represents them

In what is being hailed as a victory for gender equality, Colombians were given the right to change their name and gender on their national identity cards known as cédulas earlier this month.

Transgender people will be able to do so without having to endure intrusive physical and psychological examinations to prove their sex any more.

The move makes Colombia the second Latin American country, after Argentina, to allow citizens to choose their gender.
Alejandro Lanz, a lawyer for the human rights group Colombia Diversa believes the country is now at the forefront of equality in Latin America.

He told The Bogota Post how difficult and invasive the previous process was: “You had to go where the judge told you to, ask for evidence in legal medicine, go to psychiatric consultation to certify that you did not have an identity disorder called gender dysphoria, and even then, the judge could deny the request.”

Now, Lanz says the process takes a matter of minutes, and costs around COP$60,000.

More than a dozen European countries, including Belgium, France and Italy, require transgendered people to undergo genital removal surgery and sterilization before they can legally change their gender, meaning that Colombia is now observed by many LGBT groups as a Latin American trailblazer.

For too long, the Colombian government had “restrictive visions of human condition,” Justice Minister Yesid Reyes said during a presentation announcing the new measure on June 4.

This perspective began to change with the 1991 Constitutional reforms, which were the start of an understanding that humans are, by nature, different, according to the minister.

On the day the law came into force, a dozen Colombians changed the legal status of their identity, adopting the gender they felt comfortable with.

By Steven Grattan


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