Teens in Spain can change gender on paper without medical evaluation

Spain's Cabinet on Monday approved a transgender rights bill allowing anyone over 16, in some cases as young as 12, to easily change gender on their ID documents.

Teens in Spain can change gender on paper without medical evaluation
Children in Spain over the age of 12 will also also now be able to change their given name. Photo: Aedrian/Unsplash

The legislation, which will still need to be approved in the Spanish Parliament, will make Spain one of the few countries in Europe to permit gender self-determination.

“We have approved the second reading of the trans and LGBTI rights law which will now be brought to parliament before the summer,” said Equality Minister Irene Montero  on the eve of International Pride Day.

“We are once again at the forefront and an international reference in defence of LGBTI rights and, in particular, in defence of the rights of transgender people,” she said.

“We are recognising the right to self-determination of gender identity and we are depathologising trans realities,” she said of the move to stop categorising trans-related conditions as mental and behavioural disorders.

First approved a year ago, the proposed law means any Spaniard over 16 “will be able to apply to change the sex of their entry in the civil registry office”.

They will also be able to change their given name.

The bill effectively simplifies the procedure for changing gender on official identity documents, allowing the applicant to request the change on the basis of a simple statement, dropping the requirement for a medical report attesting to gender dysphoria or proof of hormonal treatment.

Under the new law, the reregistration procedure must be completed “within a maximum of four months,” she said.

The bill allows those as young as 12 to make the change but only under certain conditions.

“Between the ages of 14 and 16, the procedure will require parental authorisation; between the ages of 12 and 14, the procedure can be carried out through voluntary legal proceedings,” Montero said.

And it will also mean trans children under 12 will “be able to change their name on their ID card,” she said, without saying how such a procedure would work.

The legislation also bans conversion therapy, the pseudoscientific practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation.

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A tale of two rallies: Women’s Day in Spain shows deep feminism divisions

Rival Women's Day rallies in several Spanish cities on Wednesday showcased divisions in Spain's feminism movement and its government coalition over recent controversial gender legislation.

A tale of two rallies: Women's Day in Spain shows deep feminism divisions

Rallies held across Spain for International Women’s Day (referred to simply as ‘8M’ in Spanish) on March 8th have revealed deep divisions within Spanish feminism, the governing coalition, and the country at large.

The divisions stem from the raft of controversial legislation pushed by the PSOE-Podemos coalition over the last year, including a gender recognition law and the backfiring ‘Solo sí es sí’ sexual consent law that accidentally led to the release of rapists and reduced the sentences for hundreds of sexual convicts.


In certain cities, including Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla, Valladolid y León, there were even two separate marches: one organised by the 8M Commission, a movement with strong ties to Podemos and Equality Minister Irene Montero, the ideological driving force behind much of the legislation, and the other by Madrid’s feminist group Movimiento Feminista de Madrid.

Some protestors at the Movimiento Feminista de Madrid march called for Montero’s resignation, and 2023 is actually the second year that different factions within the feminist movement have held different M8 rallies.

It should be said that thousands of women also took to the streets across Spain in Bilbao, Cádiz, Huelva, Logroño, Mérida, Palma, Segovia or Zaragoza, in one unified march.

PSOE government ministers hold a banner during a demonstration marking the International Women’s Day in Madrid on March 8, 2023. Photo: Thomas COEX/AFP

Controversial legislation

Gender legislation, something that has been at the forefront of Montero’s policy agenda in the year since, including the bitterly contested Ley de Trans, has deepened the divides in both the feminist movement and government.

Though recently passed abortion legislation, which introduced menstrual leave and made accessing abortions in public hospitals easier, has been widely supported, the gender recognition bill passed last year has deeply divided feminists. 

READ ALSO: CONFIRMED: Spain will have Europe’s first paid ‘menstrual leave

Supporters of the bill, which effectively makes changing gender an administrative rather than health or legal matter, view it as a progressive step forward. Some more traditional feminists, however, view it as regressive and anti-women. In the M8 march in Madrid, protestors from the Movimiento Feminista de Madrid carried banners saying: ‘M8 is for women.’

Protestors hold banners during a students demonstration marking the International Women’s Day in Barcelona on March 8, 2023. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)

Political divisions

Divisions have also emerged at the political level. Faced with the backlash from the ‘Solo sí es sí’ law and controversy over gender recognition, splits between Pedro Sánchez’s PSOE and its junior coalition partner, Unidas Podemos, have widened.

These were highlighted once again, the day before 8M, when PSOE voted in support of amendments to the sexual consent law, siding with opposition parties rather than their coalition partner.

READ ALSO: How Spain is trying to fix its new trouble-ridden sexual consent law

Spain’s Minister for Economy and Digital Transformation, Nadia Calviño, said in the Spanish press this week that she “regretted that there are disputes” within government, adding that “it seems there are divisions that are incomprehensible to society as a whole” with regards to reforming the law.

She did, however, describe the Trans Law as “positive and necessary” and called for unity.

Feminist country

An Ipsos study released the week of M8 found that Spain is the ‘most feminist country’ in Europe. After polling people in 32 countries, Spain came out on top as the country most supportive and aware of equal rights between men and women.

Over half of Spaniards (53 percent) identify as “feminist”: a 9 percent increase on five years ago (44 percent). For context, in Portugal this figure is 46 percent, and in France 45 percent.

In Spain, just 36 percent of respondents polled said they did not identify as feminists.

True though this may be, and as strong as the feminist movement is in Spain, as this week’s M8 protests have demonstrated, it’s certainly not without its internal fissures. As calls for reforms to recent legislation intensifies, expect these divides to further deepen, particularly at the political level as Spain edges towards a general election at the end of the year.

READ ALSO: Who will win Spain’s 2023 election – Sánchez or Feijóo?