President Obama's strategic gesture of announcing a clear "yes" position on the same-sex marriage issue, triggered an outpouring of support in America. The LGBT community saw this pioneering statement, the first of its kind from a sitting American president, as proof of upcoming changes in their legal status -- which remains blatantly inferior to heterosexual's. Although Obama's mild steps may still be deemed a harbinger of changing mindsets, a handful of other countries around the globe are already leaps and bounds ahed of America in terms of social progress.
Argentina is notably part of this small coalition of pioneers. Two years ago, Argentina's Senate passed a revolutionary bill legalizing same-sex marriage and parenting. This was the first bill of its kind passed in Latin America.
This week, Argentina -- the 'Land of Silver' -- once more outpaced the rest of the world in terms of social progress. The Argentine senate, after several intense hours of deliberation, passed with an overwhelming majority, a brand-new gender identity bill. Thanks to the bill, the people of Argentina will now be able to change their gender on their identification card, without seeking medical approval, or surgery, or any other legal hurdle.
The law stipulates that, "Any adult will now be able to officially change his or her gender, image and birth name without having to get approval from doctors or judges — and without having to undergo physical changes beforehand, as many U.S. jurisdictions require."
This new statute, when sealed by President Cristina Fernandez's signature, will mark a watershed moment in the LGBT rights struggle. This new law thoroughly redefines Argentinians' perceptions of themselves, and abolishes state-controlled gender identity.
Even other forward thinking countries are not as liberal as Argentina. In Spain, for a citizen to officially change their gender identity, doctors and pychologists must 'diagnose' a gender dysphoria to give the legal go-ahead.
Reactions to the Argentine bill have been positive worldwide. "It’s saying you can change your gender legally without having to change your body at all. That’s unheard of," Katrina Karkazis, a Stanford University medical anthropologist and bioethicist, told First Post. "This gives the individual an extraordinary amount of authority for how they want to live. It’s really incredible."
While the usual Cassandras may grumble against the inevitable excesses of such a law and the difficulty of its procedural application, the general public has wholly endorsed the Senate's decision.
We sometimes call Argentina a "land of contrasts". The newly passed law is a perfect example of the country's fascination with contracdiction. At least on this issue, they have surpassed America. A source of relief and national pride, for sure.